FORE FATHERS' ROCK LODGE
Chartered By: Samuel Dunn
Charter Date: 06/08/1801 II-182
Precedence Date: 06/08/1801
Current Status: unknown
charter surrendered 12/12/1821; note on history of the lodge, pages 1925-238ff.
REFERENCES IN GRAND LODGE PROCEEDINGS
- 1925 (Notes in Royal's History of Freemasonry in Plymouth, 1925-237)
NOTES IN PLYMOUTH HISTORY, SEPTEMBER 1925
From Proceedings, Page 1925-237:
Although Plymouth was actively connected with the stirring events which led up to the American Revolution — events in which Masonry played an important part — there seems to have been no move to establish a Lodge here. Indeed it was not until 1801 that such a move was made.
On June 8 of that year, upon petition of Nathaniel Goodwin and others, a Charter was granted establishing Fore Fathers Rock Lodge. Nathaniel Goodwin was born in Plymouth in 1748 and died here in 1819. He built the house on Leyden Street which was later owned and occupied by Brother William H. H. Weston. He was a Major General during the Revolution and served in the army for many years afterwards. He was made a Master Mason in St. Andrew's Lodge, Boston. The names and Masonic history of his associates are not known. Unfortunately the records of this Lodge have been lost and practically all that we know about it is contained in the very brief references to it in the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge.
For some reason not explained in the records the Lodge was not Constituted until October 10, 1805. At that time Isaiah Thomas was Grand Master. The Grand Lodge met at the house of John D. Dunbar, "near Masons' Hall," and then, attended by a band, proceeded to the hall. After the usual formalities, R.W. John D. Dunbar, who was District Deputy Grand Master at the time, was installed Master, "in ample form"; the subordinate officers were then installed in the usual manner.
John Danforth Dunbar, the newly installed Master, was born in Stoughton in 1768 and was without doubt the J. D. Dunbar who was raised in Fayette Lodge. He graduated from Harvard College in 1788 and was a lawyer by profession. He came to Plymouth about 1791 and married Nancie, daughter of William Crombie. She was the sister of Calvin Crombie. who was associated with Dunbar in the early days of Fore Fathers Rock Lodge. An old diploma, dated 1805 and now in possession of Plymouth Lodge, bears the names of John D. Dunbar, Worshipful Master, and Calvin Crombie, Junior Warden. The installation was followed by a banquet, and the Grand .Secretary reports that "no accident occurred to mar or interrupt the harmony."
The official account is amplified somewhat by a traditional one. recorded by Rev. Thomas Weston in some "Reminiscences of Plymouth," which, in manuscript form, have lately been presented to Pilgrim Hall. Mr. Weston's information seems to have come largely from his father, who. as a young man of twenty-one years, had attended the ceremonies in the church, although apparently he was not a member of the Craft.
It appears from this account that liquor flowed rather freely on this occasion and some of the participants converted the "means of refreshment into intemperance and excess." When the procession was passing up Summer Street, Dunbar dropped out and sitting down on the doorstep of what was later known as the Virgin house, shouted with mock gravity. "Go on, you drunken scoundrels, I'll not go any farther with you."
About ten years ago Mr. Arthur Lord discovered another account of the Constitution of the Lodge, written on the blank pages of Sir Edward Coke's book on Special Pleadings. This account, at first apparently serious, soon becomes burlesque, yet it tells a story all its own and forecasts to some extent the events which followed. Tt also adds several names to the very short list of those who are known to have belonged to the Lodge.
After giving a list of the Grand Officers present, the report continues, "The procession moved at 12 o'clock to the shop of Stephen Bartlett, Grand Dram Dealer, led by Isaac Bosworth, Grand Sword Bearer, Ephraim Morton and Stephen Bartlett, Grand Wardens, and R. W. John D. Dunbar, Master of said lodge and District Deputy Grand Master for the Third District of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
"To perpetuate so splendid and magnificent proceedings this record is made by direction of the shade of Sir Edward Coke."
"'Tis love, pure love, cements the whole,
Love of the bottle and the bowl."
This account connects Isaac Bosworth, Stephen Bartlett, and Ephraim Morton with the Lodge. Nothing more is known of the first two. but Ephraim Morton appears later as one of the Charter members of Plymouth Lodge, and its first Junior Warden.
Love of the bottle and the bowl seems to have been the besetting sin of Fore Fathers Rock Lodge, and the brief record we have of its short and checkered career is largely the story of its troubles with the Grand Lodge. The particular charge against the Lodge was that it failed to pay its dues to the Grand Lodge. In 1821 the situation had become acute; the Lodge was ten years behind in its dues, and its Charter was revoked. It should be noted, however, that the trouble was not peculiar to Fore Fathers Rock Lodge, as Masonry seems to have been at a low ebb throughout the Third District. There were at that time eight Lodges in the district, and from the report of the Grand Lodge for 1820 it appears that two of the Lodges were far in arrears in their dues; one had been "unfortunate" in its officers but had now been raised to "a respectable Standing" (though still behind in its dues) ; the other five were "well conducted." but their total funds did not exceed one hundred and seventy-five dollars. With the passing of Fore Fathers Rock Lodge the first chapter of the story of Freemasonry in Plymouth closed somewhat ingloriously.
- 1812 (Protest regarding unMasonic conduct, II-527)
- 1820 (Complaints regarding arrears, III-280; expediency of recalling charter, III-294)