From MasonicGenealogy
Jump to: navigation, search

WINSLOW LEWIS, SR. 1770-1850



From TROWEL, Spring 1992, Page 2:

To a seafarer, a lighthouse is a beacon of warning and offers a trust and hope that a peaceful harbor may be entered with caution or that danger lies near or beneath the waters. A lighthouse also appeals to the better instincts of mankind. Even a landlubber is comforted that ships at sea have a continuous beacon to guide them. The Burnt Island Lighthouse on the cover of this issue of TROWEL is one of three guarding Boothbay Harbor. ME and also one of more than 35 along the rockbound and rugged coast of the Pinetree State.

American lighthouses were slow to be established in this country. The first was Boston Light, then Brant Point at Nantucket. Beavertail at Rhode Island, and New London Light in Connecticut. Although lighthouses have a good claim to be the oldest symbol of the republic. Congress, meeting in August. 1789. made maintenance of lighthouses its first public works project before any road, bridge or dam was authorized. They are now an endangered species.

In his book The Lighthouses of New England, the late Edward Rowe Snow states that the career of Winslow Lewis coincides with the more active years of the development of the New England lighthouse system. One of the more important lighthouse men of the nineteenth century. Lewis was born at Wellfleet, Cape Cod in 1770. Completing an active career at sea by 1810, in the War of 1812, he commanded the Boston Sea-Fencibles. a group composed of mariners organized to defend Boston's islands and waterfront. While on his way to visit a lighthouse he was captured by the British, but was later freed.

In 1810. he obtained a patent for a reflecting, magnifying lantern to illuminate lighthouse towers which was an improvement on other lights. The next year, he installed his invention at Boston Light where it proved satisfactory, using only half the amount of oil formerly consumed. Because of his success, he was commissioned by Secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, to place his lamps and reflectors in the 49 lighthouses in the United States. He was given $20,000 for his invention and a proportional share in the oil saving that his patent made possible. He was also allowed half the value of the oil saved at all lighthouses, figured on the basis of the consumption on an average year before his oil saving invention. Seven years later, he signed a contract to supply all lighthouses for seven years with the best sperm oil and to visit each lighthouse annually and report conditions there.

Modern technology — satellites, radar and cellular telephones—has replaced the aids-to-navigation domain. Where lighted beacons are still considered necessary, lighthouse towers are now a diminishing part of the American scene. Warning lights are now perched on poles and replace such lightships as Nantucket and Handkerchief off Cape Cod. Boston Light, built on Little Brewster Island in 1716 and the oldest in North America, will survive because of an act of Congress two years ago that assures it will not be automated. The U.S. Coast Guard is in charge of one-half of the 850 lighthouses that have been automated (except Boston Light), and there are seven on Cape Cod where Winslow Lewis first saw the light of day.

Winslow Lewis was not only an enterprising man. but one who proved to be a "useful member of society" and who communicated light in other ways. He was also a much-traveled man. He received the degrees in Freemasonry in Liverpool, England in 1791, but later affiliated with Mount Lebanon Lodge of Boston in 1832 and Washington Lodge of Roxbury (now Lexington) in 1846. He served Grand Lodge as Junior Grand Warden 1841 -43. He died May 20, 1850. When his son. Winslow Lewis, Jr., joined in Boston in 1831, they both signed the Declaration of Freemasonry of Boston and Vicinity, in the early anti-years. In 1793. in London. Winslow Sr. was made a Royal Arch Mason and Knight Templar. His father. Winslow Lewis, was made a member in the Lodge of Saint Andrew in 1762. His grandfather was Rev. Isaiah Lewis who for half a century was minister of Wellfleet and who married Abigail Winslow, a descendant of a brother of Governor Winslow. Isaiah gave his son the Christian name of Winslow, and it was passed down to Winslow Jr. who was born in Boston July 8. 1799.

Unless the landlubbers' romanticism with lighthouses is matched with funds to preserve the beacons no longer of use. the day will soon come when they will be destroyed, because government coffers to preserve buildings and historical landmarks are drying up. The S3 million Congress appropriated for matching grants to encourage communities to launch lighthouse-saving campaigns probably won't be increased as long as the nation has its economic problems. About 175 such preservation organizations in the nation have been formed. Massachusetts legislated, but never funded, a lighthouse restoration program. Storms of recent years, particularly the October. 1991, storm that raised havoc on the shores off Cape Cod. resulted in the ocean undermining the parking area opposite Chatham Light where summer visitors could view the vast expanse of the ocean at the elbow of the peninsula. The same storm tore down the sand cliffs at Highland Light in Truro, and it has been estimated the cost to move that light inland would approximate $1.2 million.

Serving as Junior Grand Warden 1841 -43. Winslow Lewis was a strong supporter of the Craft, and while a modest and unassuming man. he was always active in doing good among the Boston Lodges. He lived in Roxbury and throughout his life of uninterrupted health, he laid down the working tools of his business on May 12. 1850. when celebrating his 80th birthday. The next day a blood vessel burst in his lung. Still looking forward to attending the Masonic Festival in Framingham. he passed into the Celestial Lodge above on May 20.



A memorial appears starting on Page V-287, presented at the Quarterly Communication on June 12, 1850, by George M. Randall.

Winslow Lewis, Sr. was the son and father of Freemasons, and an active member of the Grand Lodge. He was a ship's captain by profession, who made a name for himself as a superintendent of lighthouse lighting for the United States Government; he developed an evolution of the Argand Lamp that was in general use early in the 19th century.

He was made a Mason in Liverpool, England in 1791, where he also became a Royal Arch Mason and a member of the Knights Templar; at the time of his death he was certainly the most senior member of either order in the state, and might have been the most senior Mason in Massachusetts. He was most closely attached to Washington Lodge in Roxbury, where he lived the latter part of his life; "and it was in a great measure, owing to his patronage, and kind efforts that [it] emerged from the deprression that had long born it down - and it became one of the most flourishing and active Lodges in the state."

The family name, and surname, are better remembered for his son Winslow Lewis Jr., who served a two-year and an one-year term as Grand Master not long after the father's death.


From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. IX, No. 8, June 1850, p. 253:

Died, at his late residence in Roxbury, on Monday morning, May 20th, Wmstow Lewis, Esq., aged 80 years. The immediate cause of his death was a sudden attack of hermorrhage from the lungs; under which he sunk, calmly and without pain, after a week's illness. The deceased had always enjoyed u remarkable degree of health, and up to the hour of the attack, as above stated, he was among the most active, prompt and efficient business men in our community. His mental and physical faculties were as fresh and vigorous as they are commonly found to be in men of fifty years of age. The Boston Evening Journal, of the 20th, contains the following truthful notice of the deceased:—

"Captain Lewis embraced the seafaring profession at an early period of his life, and was for a number of years well known in this city as an enterprising and skilful shipmaster. But for nearly half a century—although during that time he has filled with credit to himself various public offices, among them those of alderman and representative—he has been connected in a greater or less degree with the Light House establishment of the United States—and the services which he has rendered the government and our mercantile interests in that department, have been incalculable, and will cause his name to be long held in respect and veneration by all who have business on the great ocean. His strong, practical mind, indomitable perseverance, and industrious habits, compensated for any deficiency in classical knowledge or scientific attainments ; and few men have labored more constantly or more successfully, or have acted their various parts more faithfully, through a long life, than Capt. Winslow Lewis. By his attention to business, by the scrupulous performance of all duties incumbent upon him as a citizen of a civilized community and a Christian, be has up to the moment of bia last sickness, set a noble example to others, and his death has caused a void which It will not be easy to fill. The sad intelligence will produce heart-felt regret among a large circle of friends in many parts of the country—and his name will long be remembered, and associated with whatever is true and excellent in man, long after all the almost countless beacons which he has erected to warn the approaching mariner of his danger, shall have crumbled into dust."

Capt. Lewis was a Mason. We use the term in its best and broadest sense. He was a Mason in principle; and his actions were all made to square with his profession. He was true to the Institution in its hour of trial; and he lived to enjoy its day of prosperity. He was a Past Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and probably the oldest Knight Templar in the United States. Our impression is that he received the Order in Liverpool, (England,) nearly sixty years ago. He was a member of the Boston Encampment; and though for some years past, he has resided out of the city, few members were more regular and punctual in their attendance at the meetings of that body. He was also a member of Washington Lodge, Roxbury ; was one of the first petitioners for its revival, and contributed, by his presence and encouragement, to sustain its interests. In fine, wherever he could be of service to the Institution, in any of its departments, there he was always to he found. But he has gone, full of years and ripe in the substantial honors which hover around and bless the "honest man." The kindly affections of his Brethren, and the respect of all who knew him while living, will cling to his memory now that he is dead.

The funeral of the deceased was attended, on Tuesday afternoon, by the officers and members of the Grand Lodge, and a large circle of friends.


From Proceedings, Page 1875-132:

June 12, 1850.

R.W. Brother Peabody submitted the following remarks and resolutions on the death of R.W. Brother Winslow Lewis, senior, which were adopted and ordered to be spread upon the Records, and a copy forwarded to the family.

One of the seats in the Grand Lodge, heretofore occupied by one of the firmest and most valued supporters of the Order, is vacant.

Since our last Quarterly Meeting, our aged and ever-faithful Brother, Winslow Lewis, senior, has, by the Supreme Master, been called from his field of ever-diligent and useful labors, to his final rest. His cheerful voice will no more encourage the craftsmen, and his wisdom and energy will no longer direct, and animate them in their labors.

Brother Lewis was born at Wellfleet, on Cape Cod, on the 11th of May, 1770. His grandfather, the Rev. Isaiah Lewis, who for half a century was minister of Wellfleet, married Abagail Winslow, a descendant of a brother of Governor Winslow. He gave to his oldest son the Christian name of Winslow, and this became a family name.

Our venerable Brother is gone — but the name is not lost; for his son Winslow, a distinguished surgeon of Boston, and who is a Past Deputy Grand Master of our Grand Lodge, still remains an honor to his ancestral name. He is still a constant attendant at our meetings, cheering and encouraging our labors by his wisdom, fidelity and social virtues.

Our lamented Brother, like his father and most of the enterprising young men of his native place, in his youth entered into mercantile pursuits. In early life he rose to the command of a vessel, in which course he continued, enjoying the confidence of his employers, and the love of those whom he commanded, till past middle age, when his extensive experience, and keen and judicious habits of observation, pointed him out to the government as a fit man to superintend the erection and management of the light-houses along our coast. To that office he was appointed, and continued in it till his death.

Our lamented Brother, in 1791, soon after he became of age, was made a Freemason in Liverpool, England; and in 1793, in London, he was made a Royal Arch Mason and a Knight Templar. He was the oldest Royal Arch Mason, and Knight Templar, and perhaps the oldest Mason in the State.

He was fond of relating anecdotes, showing the benefits that he and others, within his knowledge, had received, at sea, and in foreign lands, by reason of being members of the Order. He belonged to a generation of Freemasons. His father was initiated in St. Andrew's Lodge, in Boston, in 1765. His son is now with us, and we daily witness his fidelity and attachment to the Order. May the day be far distant when it shall be the duty of any one to speak of his charities as deeds that have passed.

He, whose loss we deplore, was one of the most constant and faithful supporters of the Order. With bold and unflinching firmness he defended and sustained it in those bad times when so many were discouraged, forsook us, and fled. He was called to sustain many important offices, and died a Past Grand Warden, and a permanent member of the Grand Lodge.

He was modest and unassuming, but always active in doing good to the Brethren and Lodges around him. In the latter part of his life he lived in Roxbury; there he became a member and active supporter of Washington Lodge, and it was, in a great measure, owing to his patronage and kind efforts that Washington Lodge emerged from the depression that had long borne it down; and it became one of the most flourishing and active Lodges in the State.

Brother Lewis, through his long life, was enterprising, and habitually industrious and prudent; by moderate and steady accumulation he left an ample fortune.

Through his life he enjoyed almost uninterrupted health. On Saturday, the 11th of May, 1850, the day he was eighty years old, he was apparently in good health, and devoted the early part of the day to the ordinary transactions of his business in Boston and Charlestown. This eightieth birthday admonished him to set his house in order and prepare for his last great change, which, by the laws of nature, he knew must be near at hand; and he methodically arranged his papers, and books, and at night said he had not an outstanding account that was not fully stated and brought to a balance. All this seemed to be prophetic of his end; for the next morning, May 12, without any apparent cause, a blood-vessel burst in his lungs, which had hitherto appeared to be perfectly sound.

In the course of the day the bleeding at the lungs was staunched. He suffered no pain, but became weak, and more weak every succeeding day. On Friday, May 17, finding that he had no pains, he told his pastor, his confidential friend, that at first he thought the attack would prove speedily fatal, but having continued so long he began to entertain a hope that his strength would so far return that he should be able to attend the Masonic Festival, at Framingham, on the approaching 24th of June.

Soon after this he sunk into insensibility, and constantly became more feeble till the morning of May 20, when, without a struggle, he ceased to breathe.

His habitual modesty, and shrinking from every appearance of ostentation, prevented his expressing a wish to have a Masonic funeral, and the Grand Lodge did not feel at liberty to attend the last solemnities in their regalia; but most of the members of the Grand Lodge, in the vicinity, and a multitude of Brethren and friends, endeared to Brother Lewis by his acts of friendship and kindness, attended his funeral; and as they gazed on his features for the last time testified their sorrow for the loss of a good and just man.

Distinguished Brothers