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William Schaw


c.1550 - 1602

The King's Master of Works who laid down rules for working masons (the Schaw Statues). Born the second son of John Schaw of Broich and grandson of Sir James Schaw of Sauchie, this was a family were linked to the Royal Court. However, Schaw was a Catholic in a time when this was difficult. He was associated with Esmé Stuart, Duke of Lennox (c.1542-83) and was in Paris when Stuart died. Schaw is said to have brought Stuart's heart back to Scotland. He was appointed Master of Works by King James VI (1566 - 1625), taking responsibility for the construction and maintenance of royal castles and palaces.

Schaw was amongst the courtiers who accompanied King James VI to marry Anne of Denmark in 1589. He had acquired the barony of Sauchie by this time and returned to Scotland early in 1590 to undertake work on Dunfermline Palace and Holyrood Palace prior to the Royal couple taking up residence. Schaw was also responsible for the extravagant welcoming ceremony in Leith when James and Anne's arrived in Scotland in May 1590. He was soon appointed Lord Chamberlain responsible for the Royal household in Dunfermline.

However it is for two sets of regulations pertaining to the regulation and conduct of masons for which Schaw is best remembered. Known as the Schaw Statues, these were issued on the 28th December 1598, with further set being issued exactly a year later.

He lies buried in Dunfermline Abbey and is honoured by freemasons for his work in defining their craft.


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