Regarded as the first martyr of England, legend holds that St. Alban was born in the third century in the English Roman town of Verulamium, now St. Alban’s in Hertfordshire, north of London. In 793, the Anglo-Saxon King Offa of Mercia constructed a church and episcopal palace there. It later became a Benedictine monastery.
The 15th century Cooke Manuscript, the oldest of the Gothic Constitutions of Freemasonry, describes St. Alban as the first patron of the craft in England. It gives an account of the legend of St. Alban and his patronage of the Freemasons of that day: “And soon after there came St. Adhabelle into England and he converted St. Alban to Christianity. And he ordained (wages) adequate to pay for their toil.”
The Grand Lodge Manuscript of 1583, written about 50 years after the Cooke Manuscript, includes another account:
“Inglande in all this season stode voyde of any chardge of Massonrie until St. Albon’s tyme, and in his dayes, the Kyng of Ingland that was a pagyn he did wall thee toune aboute that is called St. Albons, and St. Albons was a woorthy Knighte & Stewarde to the Kyngs householde… and loved Massons well… and he made their paye right good… And he gave them a Charter of the Kyng & his counsell for to houlde a Genrall Cousell…. After the decease of Saynte Albon … the good rule of Massonry was destroyed vntil the tyme of Athelstone that was a woorthy Kyng of England.”
The anonymous work titled “The Complete Free Mason or Multa Paucis for the Lovers of Secrets,” published at London in 1764, states that St. Alban was appointed “Grand Master of Masons, who employed the Fraternity in building the palace at Verulam, or St. Alban’s.”