The Regius Manuscript, believed written in the year 1390 in Middle English, probably by a priest in the west of England, is the most ancient Masonic manuscript known to be in existence.
It is a poem of 794 lines, sometimes known as the “Halliwell Manuscript” as it was J.O. Halliwell who, in 1840, first edited and published the text. It formed part of the library of Henry VII, and it’s title “Regius” is indicative of it’s royal owners. The first lines tell how Euclid, himself a Mason, was employed to teach Geometry to the children of the Lords and Ladies of Egypt. It also includes, in addition to Masonic instruction, much guidance on general behaviour, required conduct in church, proper deportment, and cleanliness at meals.
The Regius Manuscript is now preserved in the British Museum, to whom it was given by King George II.