The term York Rite is a term most often used in the United States of America to refer to a collection of Masonic degrees that, in most other countries, are conferred separately. As such, it constitutes one of the two main branches of Masonic Appendant Bodies in United States Freemasonry, which a Master Mason may join to further his knowledge of Freemasonry. Its name is derived from the city of York, where, according to a Masonic legend, the first meetings of Masons in England took place, although only the lectures of the York Rite College make reference to that legend.
The divisions within the York Rite and the requirements for membership differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the essentials are the same. In all the workings, the one requirement is that all applicants be in possession of the degree of Master Mason (the third degree of Freemasonry).
The York Rite is not found as a single system in the majority of countries outside the United States, nor are any of the separate degrees subject to the local Grand Lodge jurisdiction. Each sovereign and distinct rite or “Order” elsewhere has some differences in ritual details to the York Rite system. However, provided that the Grand Lodge in question regards the parent “Craft” jurisdiction as regular, each distinct Order has recognized fraternal inter-relations with the respective Rite within the York system.
The York Rite in the United States is actually a grouping of separate Rites joined in order, namely the Capitular Rite, or Royal Arch Masons (General Grand Chapter – Royal Arch Masons International), the Cryptic Rite, or Cryptic Masons (General Grand Council – Cryptic Masons International) and the Chivalric Orders, or Knights Templar (Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United States of America).