- 1 WILLIAM SEWALL GARDNER 1827-1888
- 1.1 TERM
- 1.2 BIOGRAPHY
- 1.3 MEMORIAL
- 1.4 SPEECHES
- 1.5 CHARTERS GRANTED
- 1.6 RULINGS
WILLIAM SEWALL GARDNER 1827-1888
Grand Marshal, 1857-1859
Senior Grand Warden, 1864
Grand Master, 1869-1871.
MOORE'S FREEMASON'S MONTHLY, 1872
From Moore's Freemason's Monthly, Vol. XXXI, No. 12, October 1872, Page 363:
SIR WILLIAM SEWALL GARDNER, Grand Master of the Grand Encampment or the United States from 1868 to 1871.
By Sir Charles W. Moore.
The subject of this brief memoir, whose portrait, as an accompaniment to the present volume of the Proceedings of the Grand Encampment of the United States, has been furnished by the Grand Commandery of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, was born at Hallowell, in the State of Maine, October 1, 1827, and is the only son of Robert and Susannah Sewall Gardner, of that place.
Having completed the usual course of elementary studies taught in the public schools of his native town, he at once entered upon the higher branches of education, and in September, 1846, entered as a Freshman at Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine. In September, 1850, he graduated, having attained high rank in his class as a scholar, and was assigned the subject of "Individual Liberty" as a thesis in the graduating exercises. Among his classmates were Gen. O. O. Howard, of the United States Army, and Professor C. C. Everett, of Harvard College.
His parents having removed, in 1846, to Lowell, he commenced the study of law in that city, and in November, 1852, was admitted to the bar, having successfully passed the required examination before the Hon. Caleb Cashing, then one of the Judges of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts; and in the winter of 1852-3 he visited most of the Southern and Western States, with a view to a settlement in the practice of his profession, but not meeting with sufficient inducements he returned to Massachusetts and opened an office in Lowell in March, 1853, where he continued the practice of his profession on his individual account until February, 1855, when he entered into a copartnership with the Hon. Theodore H. Sweetser, one of the most eloquent and successful advocates at the Massachusetts bar. In December, 1861, the firm removed their office from Lowell to Boston, where it still remains.
On the 15th of October, 1868, our Brother married Mary Thornton Davis, and became a resident of Boston, but owing to the ill-health of his wife, soon after removed to the suburban town of Newton, where he at present resides, having increased his family by the addition of a daughter.
The Masonic history of our distinguished Brother dates from the 1st of August, 1852, when he was initiated into Masonry in Ancient York Lodge, working under Dispensation at Lowell. He was among the first of its initiates, and so warm and hearty was the interest he took in its success, and so manifest were his qualifications for future usefulness, that he soon after received the appointment of Senior Deacon, an office of only secondary importance in the working of the Ritual. The Lodge having been organized under its Charter, he was early elected its Senior Warden, and subsequently became its Worshipful Master, holding the latter office during the years 1855, '56, and part of 1857, when he was appointed Grand Marshal of the Grand Lodge by M. W. John T. Heard. The two offices being constitutionally incompatible, he resigned the office of Master of the Lodge, and continued to discharge the duties of Grand Marshal during the three years of Bro. Heard's Grand Mastership.
In December, 1859, he was appointed, by M. W. Grand Master Winslow Lewis, District Deputy Grand Master, for the Third Masonic District, and so acceptably were the duties of this important office performed by him, that in December, 1860, he received a reappointment from M. W. Grand Master Wm. D. Coolidge, and in December, 1862, was again reappointed by M. W. Grand Master Wm. Parkman, and continued to hold under this appointment until the following December, when he was elected Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge.
In 1867 he was appointed Master of Kilwinning Lodge, at Lowell, (hen working under Dispensation. The Lodge having received its Charter the following year, he was unanimously elected its first Worshipful Master, and became an affiliated member of it, having previously, for this purpose, dissolved his connection with Ancient York Lodge.
While Master of the former Lodge, in December, 1868, he received his first election as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and was re-elected to the same office in 1869 and 1870 — in both the latter years by the unanimous vote of his Brethren. And it is worthy of note in this connection as indicative of the conscientious fidelity with which he has fulfilled all his official Masonic duties, that he has been present at every meeting of the Grand Lodge from December, 1854, to December, 1871, with three exceptions, namely: once when detained by pressing business engagements, and twice when attending the meetings of the Grand Encampment of the United States. Such instances of devotion to duty are of too rare occurrence.
In 1853 our Brother was made a Royal Arch Mason in Mount Horeb Chapter, at Lowell, but has held no official position in Capitular Masonry. It is not, however, to be inferred from this fact, that he has, in any respect, been remiss in his duties, or neglectful of the interests of this branch of our Institution, but rather that his many and pressing labors in other fields have left him little time to cultivate this. That he has, however, faithfully and carefully studied its history, and made himself proficient in its general characteristics and Masonic importance, is amply verified by the learning and research manifest in the eloquent Centennial Oration delivered by him before St. Andrew's Royal Arch Chapter of Boston, in September, 1868 — a production eminently worthy of his own reputation as a Masonic scholar, and of the ancient Body before which it was pronounced.
In the spring of 1854 he received the Orders of Knighthood in the Boston Encampment' of Knights Templars, and soon after united with the Sir Knights at Lowell, in a petition for the establishment of Pilgrim Encampment in that city, and was appointed its first Junior Warden. On the 10th of October, 1855, this Encampment was organized under its Charter, when our Brother was elected its first Captain General, and subsequently its Generalissimo, and, finally, its Commander. In the latter office he served during the years 1861-2-3, and contributed, by his talents and energies, to raise it to the rank It now holds, as one of the finest Bodies of its class in the jurisdiction.
Having served in the Grand Encampment of Massachusetts and Rhode Island as Junior and Senior Grand Wardens, he was, in 1860, elected its Grand Captain General, which office he held for two years, when, in 1862, he was advanced to that of Generalissimo, and in 1868 he was elected its Grand Commander, and served as each the two following years. During his administration as its Grand Commander he wrote the history of the Body, and sketched with distinguished ability and learning the introduction and early annals of the Order in the United States.
At the Seventeenth Triennial Session of the Grand Encampment of the United States, held at Columbus, Ohio, in September, 1865, be was elected Deputy Grand Master of that distinguished Body; and at its following Triennial Session, held at St. Louis in September, 1868, he was honored with its Grand Mastership. So unexceptionably and ably had he discharged the arduous and delicate duties of this high position, and so popular had been his administration of its affairs, that his Companions, representing all parts of the United States, at the late Session of the Body in Baltimore would joyfully have continued him as their cherished Commander for another term of three years; bat this honor, complimentary as it was, he felt himself from "personal considerations, imperatively obliged to decline.
In May, 1857, our Companion connected himself with the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Masonry, and was successively advanced in the Grand Consistory of Massachusetts, held at Boston under the authority of the Supreme Council for the Northern Jurisdiction of the United States, through all the grades of the Rite to the 32°, and immediately after united with the Brethren of the Rite at Lowell in the organization of a Lodge of Perfection and Council of Princes of Jerusalem in that city. As the chief officer of the Council, he conferred the degrees of both Bodies, with more of the beautiful and impressive ceremonies than was common at that period in any part of the jurisdiction. In 1859 he was mainly instrumental in the establishment of the Massachusetts Consistory at Lowell (now removed to Boston), over which he presided for three years, conferring in full all the more important degrees of this division of the Rite.
On the 16th of May, 1861, he was elected Sovereign Grand Inspector General, 33°, and active member of the Supreme Council, and was immediately appointed its Deputy for Massachusetts, which office he held until the union of the two contesting Councils in 1867. In tins branch of Masonry, as in all its other branches, his labors have been wise, faithful, and eminently successful, and to him are the members of the Rite largely indebted for the high and commending place it now occupies as a leading power in the Masonry of the country.
Nor have his services end talents, voluntarily rendered in behalf of our beloved Institution in all its various grades and departments, failed to command that recognition which is conspicuously their due. They have won for him eminent distinction in the Craft throughout the country, and, what is doubtless of more value and mere gratifying to him personally, they have earned for him a high and honorable place in the respect and affection of his Brethren. And ia this connection, it may not be out of place to mention, that he has been complimented with Honorary Membership in many of our oldest and most respectable Masonic organizations; among which are St. Andrew's Royal Arch Chapter and St. Bernard Commandery, of Boston; Apollo Commandery, Chicago; St. John's Philadelphia; Missouri, St. Louis, and others; and, on the Tenth Anniversary of the Union of German Free-masons, held at Darmstadt on the 23d of July, 1871, he was elected Corresponding Member of that Body and honored with its Diploma.
In politics our Brother has rarely mingled, believing that in this respect "the post of honor is a private station." The turmoils and strifes of the political arena are net agreeable to his tastes, nor consistent with his profession and literary pursuits — a conclusion to which he seems to have arrived after having served the city of his residence as a member of its Board of Aldermen for a term of two years. As a Masonic writer and historian, our Brother occupied a high rank among the Masonic literati of this country. Many of the ablest essays on our national and local Masonic history, in its various branches, are the fruits of his learning and the productions of his pen. His indefatigable industry and logical acumen, as evidenced by his various and profound antiquarian investigations, have enabled him to lay before his Brethren many of the most elaborate and valuable Masonic contributions of the day. But neither the limits of this memoir, nor the time of the writer, admit of a specific enumeration of them. That must be the work of another time and another pen. And we close this brief and imperfect sketch with the perhaps unnecessary remark — unnecessary wherever he is personally known — that as a presiding officer, a courteous gentleman, and a ripe Masonic scholar, our Brother justly enjoys the love and respect of his personal friends and Masonic Brethren wherever he is known, at home or abroad.
FROM LIBERAL FREEMASON, 1888
From Liberal Freemason, Vol. XI, No. 6, September 1887, Page 191:
At a recent meeting of the Governor and Council, Gov. Ames announced that he had received and accepted be resignation of Hon. William S. Gardner as a Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court, and nominated to the vacancy Judge Marcus P. Knowlton of the Superior Bench. Judge William S. Gardner was appointed to the Superior Court in 1875 by Gov. Gaston. He was born in Hallowell, Me., October 1st, 1827, is a graduate of Bowdoin College, Senator Frye being among his classmates, and at the time his appointment was the law-partner of Hon. T. H. Sweetzer. On the death of Judge Waldo Coburn, Gov. Robinson named Judge Gardner as his successor in 1885. He has never held any other public office, but has been very prominent in the Episcopal church and the Masonic fraternity. For some months he has not sat upon the bench, having been abroad in the endeavor to recruit his failing health, and his unsuccess in this effort has led to his resignation. Judge Gardner is a resident of Newton.
Judge Marcus P. Knowlton, of Springfield, was born in Wilbraham, lass., February 3, 1839, and was graduated at Yale College in i860. Ie was President of the Springfield Common Council in 1872 and 1873, and sat in the lower branch of the Legislature in 1878. In 1880 and 1881 he was in the Senate and was placed at the head of ndiciary Committee. He was elevated to the Superior Bench by Gov. Long in 1881. The many friends of Past Grand Master Gardner have known with regret that his health has been seriously impaired for some time past, and have hoped for its restoration. The letter of Governor Ames, wherein he expressed the opinion that the full salary of a retired judge should be given to Brother Gardner, because of his twelve years of too laborious duty on the bench, meets the hearty approval of right minded men. The doubt arises from the fact that the judge has not yet reached the age fixed by law for retiring with a pension. There can be no doubt that he earned it.
From TROWEL, Fall 1999, Page 24:
William Sewall Gardner
One of Massachusetts' Greatest Grand Masters
by R. W. James T. Watson, Jr.
William Sewall Gardner was born in Hallowell, ME, on October 1. 1827, of Puritan ancestry, the only son of Robert and Susan Sewall Gardner. After graduation from Bowdoin College, he studied law in Lowell. MA and was admitted to the bar in Middlesex County in 1852. In 1855. he formed a partnership with Theodore Sweeter, a well-known advocate, the firm moving in 1861 to Boston. On December 31, 1875, he was appointed to the bench of the Superior Court for 10 years, until the governor promoted him to the Supreme Judicial Court. He stayed in that position until ill-health forced his resignation.
Gardner was made a Mason in Ancient York Lodge, Lowell, on August 11, 1852. He served as Senior Deacon in 1854. Senior Warden in 1855 and Worshipful Master for two years in 1856-57. A charter member of Kilwinning Lodge. Lowell, he served as its first Master in 1866-68.
In Grand Lodge Gardner served as Grand Marshal in 1857-59 for M. W. John T. Heard, as District Deputy Grand Master in 1860-63 under M. W. Winslow Lewis. M. W. William D. Coolidge and M. W. William Parkman in 1864. he served as Senior Grand Warden and in 1869-71 as Grand Master.
His presence was first noted in Grand Lodge on December 27.1853, when he attended as Senior Deacon of Ancient York Lodge. He later introduced the amendment to the Grand Constitutions for the Quarterly Communications to begin at 2 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. On June 8, 1864, he proposed the amendment to limit to five the number of candidates to receive the first degree at one time.
William Sewall Gardner became Grand Master on December 29. 1868. He must be regarded as one of our greatest Grand Masters, for he was unanimously elected for each of his three years in office, which was unusual 131 years ago. He was also the first to deliver a formal address at the Quarterly Communications, which provided more insight into the real conditions and workings of Grand Lodge and called attention to what needed improvement.
Many problems marked his term of office. One was the payment of the debt for the new building, the interest each year being $29,882.31. At the Annual Communication on December 9, 1869, a proposal was made to amend the Grand Constitutions to have only one Communication a year, but it was rejected. At the close of his second year.
M. W. Bro. Gardner announced that Grand Lodge had no membership records of subordinate Lodges. To correct the problem, he provided new. more detailed forms.
During Gardner's term a problem arose, also, with Chile. The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts had constituted Bethesda Lodge, there being no Grand Lodge in any country on the Pacific coast of South America. Eventually Chile established a Grand Lodge which the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was the first to recognize.
Later Massachusetts chartered another Lodge in Chile, named Aconcagua. The Grand Lodge of Chile objected, but conceded the new Lodge the right to work in English with the ritual of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts if its obedience were to the Grand Lodge of Chile. Massachusetts stated its right to constitute this Lodge since it worked under the York Rite while Chile worked under Scottish Rite. Massachusetts proved its reasoning by quoting from "Declaration of the Powers of Scottish Rite," Paris, 1834, the same body that had chartered the Grand Lodge of Chile.
A committee report of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts relative to making Masons-at-sight stated. "This prerogative empowers the Grand Master to enter any Lodge within his jurisdiction and make Masons . . .without any ballot whatever." (Grand Proceedings 1856-64, p. 483). Perhaps this statement caused the Grand Lodge of Nevada in its letter of April 15, 1871, to ask for the position of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts on the right to make Masons-at-sight. M. W. Bro. Gardner responded. "The only case, so far as I can learn, of the Grand Master of Massachusetts making a Mason-at-sight occurred in September. 1827. This was at the time of the Anti-Masonic excitement... the circumstances are detailed in Past Grand Master John T. Heard*s "Historical Account of Columbian Lodge.' pp. 456-9."
M. W. Bro. Gardner continued. "There can be no doubt of the existence in the Grand Master of this right and power. From necessity it must have been practised... to introduce the Rite into foreign countries. It is said that Frederick the Great was made a Mason in this manner and... that the King of Sweden exercised this right, when, as Grand Master he... made the Prince of Wales a Mason," (Grand Proceedings. 1871. p. 59)
M. W. William Sewall Gardner brought to the office of Grand Master the contribution of his writings, an intimate knowledge of the laws and usages of the Craft and action to meet its practical needs. He died at his home in Newton on April 4, 1888. Grand Lodge was represented at his funeral by its officers and membership in the Craft. Gardner's portrait by Thomas B. Lawson. presented on September 9. 1874. by Brethren of the four Lodges in Lowell, hangs in the corridor on the fifth floor.
From TROWEL, Fall 2013, Page 8:
William Sewall Gardner
Holding the Scales in Equipoise
By Rt. Wor. Walter H. Hunt
Of those who had been called to lead our Grand Lodge in the 18th and 19th centuries, the vast majority were from Boston or its environs. This is hardly a surprise; Massachusetts Freemasonry was born and was nurtured in the Bay State’s largest city, and the Grand Lodge’s meetings had always been held there, since the days of Henry Price. There were a few exceptions: Isaiah Thomas had been a printer in Boston, but made his reputation and his career in Worcester well before his installation as Grand Master; Timothy Bigelow, John Abbot, and Caleb Butler were all from the area of Groton, north and west of the metropolis. Charles C. Dame was from the North Shore.
The Lowell Masonic block circa 1872 from a stereopticon slide.
In 1869, however, the Grand Lodge elected a Grand Master from a city, Lowell, that had not even existed half a century before. William Sewall Gardner was a young man — just 42 at the time of his elevation — but had already made his mark as a lawyer outside the fraternity, and within it, as a prominent member of Grand Lodge and of the several York Rite and Scottish Rite bodies. Youthful, energetic, and extremely well-spoken, he was held in high regard by his brethren. As Past Grand Master Samuel Crocker Lawrence said of him twenty years later,
"We must gratefully pay him the tribute due to his high attainments, his indefatigable industry and unselfish devotion, in every department of Masonic duty which was entrusted to his hands. His trained and exact habits of mind and scholarly love of research admirably fitted him for the labors of a Masonic historian and expositor, and the contributions of his pen have done much to enlarge the field of Masonic information. He was deeply versed in the ritualism of the Craft . . . His interpretation of Masonry doubtless borrowed something from the natural seriousness of his character; but it was beautifully enforced by the kindliness of his manners, the gentle dignity of his bearing, the purity of his life, and the unquestioned integrity of his heart."
William Sewall Gardner was born in Hallowell, Maine, in 1827; as his biographer notes, “he came of sound Puritan ancestry,” a descendant on the maternal side from the Sewalls. As is true of the author of this article, he was a graduate of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine; and like many young men of his time, sought his career in southern New England, entering a law practice with Theodore H. Sweetser in Lowell. In the previous quarter century, it had grown from a mill town of 2,500 to a bustling, rapidly-expanding city of 33,000 (second largest in Massachusetts), primarily due to the booming textile industry.
There had been Masonry in the area since Paul Revere’s time. He had signed the charter of Saint Paul Lodge in Groton, and his successor Samuel Dunn had granted one to Aurora Lodge, meeting in Fitchburg since 1844; Pentucket Lodge of Chelmsford, formed in 1807, had relocated to Lowell when its charter was restored in 1845. In 1852 a group of Masons from that lodge, including Jefferson Bancroft, Peter Lawson and Samuel Knox Hutchinson, received dispensation for a new lodge to help address the exceptional interest in the fraternity in Lowell. During its year under dispensation, Ancient York Lodge conferred the degrees of Freemasonry on 25-year-old attorney William Sewall Gardner, who had just passed the Massachusetts Bar.
In 1854 he had already reached the office of senior deacon; in 1856 he was elected the lodge’s fourth master, which chair he occupied for two years. His skill in Masonry and leadership in the Lowell fraternity, both Blue lodge and the York and Scottish Rites, attracted the attention of the Grand Lodge; Most Wor. John T. Heard, the young and dynamic Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, chose him as Grand Marshal — and there is considerable evidence that the well-traveled Brother Heard, who visited every lodge in the jurisdiction during his three years in office, was almost always introduced and escorted by Brother Gardner. Grand Masters Coolidge and Parkman appointed him as the District Deputy Grand Master for the Third District in 1861–1863; he was elected as Senior Grand Warden in 1864; and in December 1868 was chosen as Grand Master of Masons at the age of 41.
The task before him was daunting. Under his predecessor Charles C. Dame, the Grand Lodge had undertaken the task of replacing the Boston Masonic Temple destroyed by the Winthrop House fire of April 1864; it had been dedicated in impressive ceremony in June 1867. In Gardner’s inaugural address to the Grand Lodge, he noted that Freemasonry in Massachusetts was enjoying a period of great prosperity:
Men of all classes and conditions, in great numbers flock to our temples and gather about our altars. If brethren, members constitute the successful state of Masonry, then are we indeed fortunate. The number of lodges and of members was never before so large as at the present time, and the outward signs of prosperity were never more encouraging . . .
But the building of the new temple had imposed a huge burden of debt, nearly $400,000, which required almost $30,000 annually to service.
Before these liabilities accrued, the care of the Grand Lodge was comparatively light, and the duties of the executive officers few. Now the Grand Lodge has become a corporation, and its financial interests exceed all others . . . Thus Masonry which has carefully kept aloof from the influences and excitements of the world, has in a measure become mixed up with them. The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts has thus entered upon its new and untried experiment.
The care of the lodges, the preservation and perfection of the ritual, charity, which should be our great object, become subordinate to the greater duty of paying our debts and meeting our engagements.
In essence, he noted, the business concerns of the institution seemed to have become a greater concern than the ultimate reasons for its existence: to transmit the teachings and philosophy. But it should not be so: while the Grand Lodge — which, he indicated, was in essence all of the lodges in the Commonwealth — had to deal with the financial burdens, it was also the lodges’ responsibility to do the work of Masonry: effectively, accurately, and uniformly. It had not been that long since John T. Heard had traveled the state, witnessing the work.
During his Grand Mastership, William Sewall Gardner granted 28 charters: four in 1869, ten in 1870, and fourteen in 1871. Some were new lodges where one already existed (including Charlestown, Amesbury, South Boston, Worcester, Lawrence, and in Valparaiso, Chile); others broke new ground for Masonry (Belchertown, Yarmouth, Cotuit, Brookline, Wilbraham). This period of enormous growth reflected the sentiments he expressed in his first address to Grand Lodge and impressed upon him that the custody of the Grand Lodge was a heavy and important responsibility, requiring hard work and close attention.
At the end of his first year, he revised the requirements and duties of district deputy grand masters, requiring a report from them based on their inspection of each lodge’s work, regalia, furniture, records, and activities — twenty requirements in all:
These are some of your duties; others of no less consequence, will impress themselves upon you . . . Avoid antagonism, impress upon the masters and wardens the necessity of their attendance upon the communications of the Grand Lodge, and that the destinies and control of the Grand Lodge are in their hands: and let the brethren understand that they have their representation through their chosen officers . . . as the representative of the Grand Lodge, it is your duty to encourage the zealous Mason, impart instruction where you can, cheer the lodges, and zealously labor, as a co-worker with your brethren, to elevate the moral standard of Masonry in the field assigned to you.
He was also more than willing to be firm and decisive with his authority. In a dispute in the fall of 1870 with Star in the East Lodge in New Bedford, which had refused to remit monies due the Grand Lodge, he moved at once to revoke their charter. It was restored in March after the dispute was resolved by payment being made, with interest and expenses added.
As a scholar, Grand Master Gardner also distinguished himself, most particularly in the last speech he gave as Grand Master in December 1871 — what has come to be known as the “Henry Price Address.” At the time he delivered it, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania had entered into a dispute regarding the seniority of its own body with respect to that of Massachusetts, a disagreement that has not completely subsided in the present day. Brother Gardner’s Henry Price Address traces the early history of Freemasonry, provides a superb biography of Price and an account of his Grand Mastership, the provenance and validity of the Massachusetts Grand Charter, and the work of Price’s successors in St. John’s (Provincial) Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Accompanied by pictures and a facsimile reproduction of Price’s commission, it is the first great work of Masonic scholarship to appear in the Proceedings.
After serving as Grand Master, Brother Gardner returned to the practice of law, and was called to the bench in 1875 and ultimately to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1885; in the records of our Grand Lodge, he was usually referred to as Judge Gardner, and was often called upon to interpret cases of Masonic Law; as Grand Master he issued a lengthy ruling on the definition of a Masonic offense, and another important edict reinforcing the 1794 declaration of Grand Master John Cutler regarding territorial jurisdiction (in connection with the establishment of the Grand Lodge of Chile, in which country, Massachusetts had a chartered lodge since 1854). He was a frequent speaker at the Feast of St. John, offering remarks in 1875, 1876, 1880, 1881, 1882, and 1884.
In the fall of 1887 he fell ill; according to the memorial of Grand Master Hutchinson, it was due to “serious nervous prostration, the result of unremitted application to his professional labors.” He was commended by Governor Ames for his hard work as a judge, and it was hoped that a trip through Europe would help him to recover; but in the first week of April 1888 he died, just over 60 years of age. His death, along with that of Grand Master Howland in 1887 and the subsequent loss of Grand Master Briggs partway through his first and only year in the Oriental Chair in 1893, constituted a difficult loss for the Grand Lodge; all of these men had been expected to dispense wise counsel in their older age, yet were struck down by the all-devouring scythe far before their time.
The Lowell Masonic Building circa 1929.
Grand Master Gardner’s legacy continues to the present. He was a mentor for Grand Master Charles C. Hutchinson and Senior Grand Warden William Salmon, who served in the East of Ancient York Lodge after him; he was a charter member and the first master of Kilwinning Lodge, Lowell’s third Masonic lodge; and in 1928 the Masonic community in Lowell honored him by giving his name to a new lodge— William Sewall Gardner Lodge — which merged with Kilwinning Lodge in 2007. Lowell has since given us many distinguished Masons, including Hutchinson and two other Grand Masters: Arthur D. Prince and Andrew G. Jenkins; but among the prominent Masons of Lowell, Gardner must be held among the foremost. He was a gifted, capable, and learned man who truly held the scales of justice in equipoise.
FROM PROCEEDINGS, 1888
From Proceedings, Page 1888-63, presented by R.W. Bro. Samuel C. Lawrence:
Few men have rendered more conspicuous service in the cause of Masonry in this State, or have filled a higher place in the respect and regard of its members, than the distinguished and beloved Brother whose death we have recently been called to mourn.
William Sewall Gardner was born in Hallowell, Maine, Oct. 1, 1827, and was the only son of Robert and Susan Sewall Gardner. He came of sound Puritan ancestry, and, on the maternal side, was a descendant of the Sewalls, who, for more than a century, held high judicial positions in the courts of Massachusetts and Maine. The prominent traits of his character and the tenor of his professional life were singularly foreshadowed, by those of his ancestors.
He entered Bowdoin College in 1846, and, after graduating, began the study of law in Lowell, Mass. He was admitted to the bar in Middlesex County, Mass., in 1852, and three years later, entered into partnership with Theodore H. Sweetser, the well-known advocate. In 1861, the firm removed to Boston, where it at once obtained a wide and successful practice, which continued until Bro. Gardner's appointment to the bench of the Superior Court of Massachusetts, Dec. 31, 1875. He performed the duties of this position with dignity and honor until 1885, when he was promoted to a seat in the Supreme Judicial Court by Governor Robinson. Last September, failing health marked by serious nervous prostration, the result of unremitted application to his professional labors, compelled him to withdraw from the bench. In accepting his resignation, Governor Ames took occasion to tender him, in behalf of the Commonwealth, the assurance of the sympathy of its citizens on account of his illness, and their regret that he was compelled to relinquish a position in the judicial department of the State, the duties of which he had faithfully, ably and honorably discharged for a period of twelve years, with great benefit and credit to the Commonwealth.
A visit to Europe, and complete suspension from labor, failed to contribute to the reestablishment of his vital powers, and he gradually sank until his death, which occurred at his home in Newton, April 4, 1888. The Grand Lodge was represented at his funeral by the Grand Master and others of its officers and members, who joined with his professional brethren and a sorrowing community in paying the last tributes of respect to his memory.
Judge Gardner was twice married. In 1868, October 15th, he married Mary Thornton Davis, widow of Bro. Charles A. Davis, M.D., by whom he had one child, a daughter. In 1877, he formed a second union, with Sarah M. Davis, daughter of Hon. Isaac Davis, of Worcester, who survives him.
Bro. Gardner's connection with Masonry began about: the same time with his admission to> the bar, and, until his elevation to the bench in 1875, much of the time, he could spare from absorbing professional cares, was devoted to the promotion of the interests of our beloved Institution.
In the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts he was Grand Marshal in 57-58-59; District Deputy Grand Master in 1860-61-62-63 (District 3; Senior Grand Warden in, 1864, and M.W. Grand Master in 1869-70-71.
He was exalted to the degree Of Royal Arch Mason, November 21, 1853, in Mount Horeb Royal Arch Chapter, of Lowell, Mass. He received the degree of the Cryptic Rite, Feb. 23, 1857, in Ahasuerus Council of Royal and Select Masters, of Lowell, Mass. He received the Orders of Knighthood in Boston Commandery, being created a Knight Templar, May 12, 1854, and was a charter member of Pilgrim Commandery, of Lowell, chartered Oct. 10, 1855. He was its Junior Warden in 1856-57; Captain General in 1858-59; Generalissimo in 1859-60, and Eminent Commander in 1861-62. In the Grand Commandery of Mass. and R.I., he was Grand Captain-General in 1860-61; Grand Generalissimo in 1862-63, and Grand Commander in 1863-64. In the Grand Encampment of the United States, he served as Deputy Grand Master in 1865-68, and M.E. Grand Master in 1868-71. In the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, he received the 32°, May 15, 1857. In July of the same year,, he became a charter member of Lowell Lodge of Perfection and Lowell Council of Princes of Jerusalem; in April, 1859, of Mount Calvary Chapter of Rose Croix, all of Lowell; and in August, 1860, of Massachusetts Consistory of S. P. R. S. 32°, then of Lowell, but now of Boston. In all these Bodies he served in various official capacities. He was Secretary of the Lodge of Perfection for nine years; he was Master of the Council of Princes, and the first Commander-in-Chief of Massachusetts Consistory. He rendered distinguished service as the Deputy of the Rite for Massachusetts from May 18, 1861, to May 17, 1867. He received the 33°, May 16, 1861, on which date he was crowned an active member of the Supreme Council for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, U.S.A. On the tenth anniversary of the Union of German Freemasons, held at Darmstadt, Germany, July 23, 1871, he was elected Corresponding Member of that Body, and was honored with its Diploma.
In reviewing Bro. Gardner's Masonic career, which covers a larger share of labor and of honor than usually falls to the lot of our most distinguished Craftsmen, we must gratefully pay him the tribute due to his high attainments, his indefatigable industry and unselfish devotion, in every department of Masonic duty which was entrusted to his hands. His trained and exact habits of mind and scholarly love of research admirably fitted him for the labors of a Masonic historian and expositor, and the contributions of his pen have done much to enlarge the field of Masonic information. He was deeply versed in the ritualism of the Craft, and regarded with tender reverence every precept, symbol and form, which gives to it significance, illumination and force. His interpretation of Masonry; doubtless borrowed something from the natural seriousness of his character; but it was beautifully enforced by the kindliness of his manners, the gentle dignity of his bearing, the purity of his life and the unquestioned integrity of his heart. It is a matter of just pride to Masons that such men find in the inner life of our Craft so much that contributes to the moral aid, refreshment and comfort, of which mankind stands so sorely in need; and Masonry will require no defence or apology while such men love it.
It is unnecessary in this presence to enlarge upon the service which our beloved Brother rendered as Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts. He brought to the discharge of the duties of that position a love of order which was constitutional, thorough habits of work, an intimate acquaintance with the laws and usages of the Craft, and a keen perception of its practical needs. Perhaps no man has come to that office better equipped for its proper work; and certainly his conduct of Masonic affairs during three, terms of service has left an indelible impression, upon the minds of his contemporaries, an impression perhaps as much due to an intelligent recognition of the high aims and purposes of the man, as to a just appreciation of the great benefits which accrued to the Institution under his wise and thoughtful administration. Masonry has made great advancement, and has achieved wonderful triumphs since that time; but we must not forget that the impulse which has so accelerated its progress was given in earlier days by the hands of noble men, some of whom are still living and honored among us, while others have passed on to the freer life; of the immortals. Among those men, living and dead, who infused into Masonry a fresh current of vitality, and to whom we owe a debt which only love and gratitude can repay, William Sewall Gardner holds an undisputed place.
FROM LIBERAL FREEMASON, 1888
From Liberal Freemason, Vol. XII, No. 1, April 1888, Page 18:
One hundred and forty miles inland in a northerly course from the Atlantic Ocean lies Moosehead Lake, familiar to the sportsmen, famous also, as the source of the Kennebec River which courses its way to the sea and meets the tide-water at Augusta the capital of the State of Maine, one hundred miles from its place of beginning.
Two miles below Augusta, on the west bank of the river lies the town of Hallowell, noted for its beautiful situation, its enterprise, and for its old-time energy in ship-building, when that industry gave encouragement to builders and owners to pursue it.
The country adjacent was fertile, and the soil was tilled by sturdy men whose homes were cheered by industrious women, who found their ambition satisfied in the growth of dutiful sons and daughters, who in turn became exemplars of the mental and moral qualities of their parents.
Descended on the maternal side from the Sewalls, a name distinguished on the bench in Massachusetts and Maine for over one hundred years, William Sewall Gardner, an only son, was born in Hallowell, October 1st, 1827, to Robert Gardner and Susan Sewall, and to a large degree he grew to illustrate many of tne strong traits of character noted in his mother's ancestral line.
In l846 he entered Bowdoin College, where he had classmates who, like himself, have adorned their chosen profession, and impressed something of their own character upon the times in which they lived. After graduating, Mr. Gardner entered upon the study of the law, in Lowell, Mass., and in 1852, he was admitted to the Bar in Middlesex County, where he finally settled into practice with flattering success.
In 1855 he entered into partnership with the late Hon. Theodore H. Sweetser, and in 1861 the firm removed from Lowell to Boston, where they had larger scope for their conceded abilities.
During the gubernational term of Governor Gaston, the late Hon. Joseph K. Baker, a distinguished Freemason, was one of the Governor's Council, and his influence was exercised to confirm the Governor's favorable opinion which crystalized into the nomination of Mr. Gardner to a Justiceship in the Superior Court, in 1875.
The dignified and highly honorable manner in which he discharged the duties of judge in this Court, recommended him for promotion, and on October 1st, 1885, the anniversary of his birthday, he was promoted by Governor Robinson to a seat in the Supreme Judicial Court.
Zealous to maintain the highest standard of judicial character, his professional cares made such inroads upon his health that in September, 1887, he sent in his resignation to Governor Ames, who, in accepting it, took occasion to compliment the judge for his superior service, and to tender him the sympathies of the people of the Commonwealth, and their hopes of his recovery. But this latter was not to be; the able lawyer, the upright judge, the intellectual and beloved Grand Master could not contend against the last enemy, and he died at his home in Newton, Mass., on April 4th, 1888. The funeral, like his life, was quiet, unobtrusive, and sincere. To it went many sorrowing and stricken friends. The Bench and the r>ar was largely represented; neighbors and friends were in full sympathy with his widow and the more immediate mourners; the Grand Master and many others of the Grand Lodge; the Grand Commander and other Sir Knights of the Grand Com-mandery, all went with sorrow in their hearts to pay tribute to the memory of their deceased brother.
At about the time of his admission to the Bar, Mr. Gardner was made a Mason in Ancient York Lodge of Lowell, and this latter event was on August 11th, 1852. In 1854, be was Senior Deacon; 1855, Senior Warden, and Master in 1856-7.
Later, he was one of the founders of Kilwinning Lodge in the same city, and its first Master in 1866-67. As a ritualist, he was intelligent, always intellectual and original, where originality could find opportunity in the work of Freemasonry.
Brother Gardner was a conspicuous figure in Freemasonry from his first introduction; locally at first, but soon his force was felt in the Grand Lodge, where he was Grand Marshal in 1857-8-9. He was District Deputy Grand Master in 1860-61-62-63, of what was then the Third District, comprising twelve Lodges during his fourth year.
In making his closing report to the Grand Master, he said: "During the four years I have had the honor of presiding over this District, our institution has rapidly increased in numbers; three new Lodges have received their Charters, and one been established by Dispensation. From year to year increased attention has been paid to the ritual and lectures, while the brethren have not been unmindful of the beneficial effects of forms and ceremonies; not that these are the essentials of Masonry, but rather the adjuncts, by means of which the sublime principles of our Order are more deeply impressed, and the better taught. . . In retiring from this laborious but interesting office, I sincerely regret the deprivation of that social relation with the Brethren of the various Lodges which has annually been renewed under the most pleasing circumstances, and also that I can no longer meet quarterly at the Board of D. D. Grand Masters, where such valuable Masonic information is obtained, and where the heart is enlarged by communication with Brethren fresh from the active duties of Masonic labor, in every part of the jurisdiction."
On November 21, 1853, he was made a Royal Arch Mason in Mt. Horeb Chapter, and was Master of the First Veil in 1855. He received the degree in Cryptic Masonry in Ahasuerus Council, the select degree being conferred on him February 23, 1857, but his tastes did not prompt him to occupy official station in either Chapter or Council. The Orders of Knighthood were more to his liking, and the Templar Ritual won his approbation and work.
He was created a Knight Templar in Boston Commandery, May 12, 1854, and soon thereafter took part in establishing Pilgrim Commandery in Lowell. The Charter of this flourishing body of Templars, is dated October 10th, 1855, and his name is the fifth of the twenty enrolled in the Charter.
Of this body he was Junior Warden, during the first three years of its existence; Captain General in 1858; Generalissimo in 1859 and'60; Eminent Commander in 1861 and 1862. In 1867 he was one of the "Board of Trustees of the Masonic Association" in Lowell, on the part of the Commandery, and in this, as in many other minor things, he showed a readiness to be of service to his brethren.
In the Grand Commandery of Massachusetts and Rhode Island he was Grand Captain General in 1860-61; Grand Generalissimo in 1862; and Grand Commander in 1863-64; or as the titles then were, Most Eminent Grand Master of the Grand Encampment.
The industry he displayed at the head of this venerable organization, became a vital force in its existence and this was cheeringly manifest in the improved condition of the several subordinate Commanderies in the jurisdiction. The ritual of the Order of the Temple was in complete harmony with his nature; indeed, it may be said of him, that he was a ritualist by nature, and in the Orders of Knighthood he found kinship to that pronounced element of his character. Thus his mental, moral and spiritual qualities united in one harmonious whole m the Order of the Temple, to the interest of which he gave his best thought and supported by his highest manhood. His high qualities were freely recognized in the Grand Encampment K. T. of America, where he appeared for the first time at Columbus, Ohio, in the Sixteenth Triennial Session of that Body, and where he was elected Deputy Grand Master. At the Seventeenth Triennial Session held in St. Louis in September, 1868, he made a report conspicuous for its fullness of detail, but of great historic importance in the Templar history of the United States. A reference to the printed proceedings of this session will satisfy the inquirer that the history of the early days of Templarism were much enriched by this painstaking contribution to it. At this Session the Eminent Sir Knight was elected M. E. Grand Master, an office from which he retired at the Eighteenth Triennial Session in Baltimore in 1871, with honor unsurpassed by any of his predecessors. The printed proceedings of this Session have an engraved portrait of him for a frontispiece, and this portrait we have to regard as the best in all particulars we have yet seen of him.
Brother Gardner received the degrees in the Sovereign Grand Consistory at the session of the Supreme Council, N. J., A. and A. S. Rite, convened in Boston, May 12, 1857. The Grand Consistory was opened at 5 o'clock p. m., when he with eleven others were elected. On the 13th he with six others received "the degrees of the Lodge of Perfection;" and "the degree of Knight of the East, and Prince of Jerusalem." On the next day the degrees in the Chapter of Rose Croix and in the Consistory were conferred, but Brother Gardner did not appear until Friday the 15th, when he with three others received the degrees including the 32°.
On May 16, 1861, he received the thirty-third degree and on the same date was crowned Active. As Deputy for Massachusetts his work became familiar to his brethern, and his pen was fertile in defence of the cause he espoused in the Rite whose history during the last quarter of a century he did so much to establish.
He was a Charter member of the four bodies in the A. and A. Rite in Lowell, was Secretary of the Lodge of Perfection and Chapter of Rose Croix for a number of years, and was at the head of the Council of Princes of Jerusalem and Massachusetts Consistory in their earliest existence.
As a Freemason he was orderly, systematic and consistent. Strong in his opinions, these were formed intelligently. No man had better knowledge of subjects upon which he passed judgment and no man could hold in greater contempt every species of guile, trick and insincerity, in Masonic polity than he. His mind was far reaching, and this was enriched by study, the burden of which overmastered his physical energies at a time of life when his friends had vainly hoped he would be at his strongest.
A good friend was he, also. In this direction we pause, saying this much in confirmation of this trait in his character:
Great, earnest soul that strugglest toward the light,
Ignoring all the dumb
Dead oracles on reason's vaunted height,
Weighing the senseless sum
Of earth's religions, for one saving clause
To satisfy the will
That owns the majesty of God's pure laws.
True soul, we give thee hail!
Oh, follow on, sincere and noble soul!
And thou at length shalt see
Revealed upon Golgotha's mount, the whole
Of God's grand mystery.
From Liberal Freemason, Vol. XII, No. 2, May 1888, Page 64:
We had the satisfaction of attending, by invitation on May 15th a service in memory of the late Past Grand Master, Judge William Sewail Gardner, under the direction of the Masonic Fraternity in Lowell. Eulogistic addresses were made by R. Wor. Wm. F. Salmon, presiding; Bro. Judge S. P. Hadley, who spoke for William North Lodge; R. W. Solon W. Stevens, for Kilwinning Lodge, M. E. Arthur G. Pollard, for Mt. Horeb Chapter; R. E. Chas. C. Hutchinson, for Pilgrim Commandery, and Rev. J. I. Seward, for the local Bodies in the A. and A. Rite. Alternating with the speakers, a double quartet rendered expressive musical selections. The entire service was happily conceived and conducted in the spirit and purpose of Freemasonry, and as such, was a worthy tribute to a brother whose masonic life was so closely identified with Freemasonry in Lowell.
FEAST OF ST. JOHN, DECEMBER 1868
From Proceedings, Page VII-269, on his installation as Grand Master, December 29, 1868:
On the 28th. of December, 1827, the Grand Master, in his Inaugural Address to the Grand Lodge at the time of his Installation, said:—
No Masonic Body, perhaps, lies under greater responsibilities than this Grand Lodge. It is the first established in America, and by its authority Freemasonry was first promulgated in our land. This body, if I mistake not, has ever sustained a high character for dignity and respectability. When I consider the distinguished men who have occupied this chair, and the great importance which has ever been attached to this office, I tremble lest I should put forth, as it were, a sacrilegious hand and touch the ark. I am inclined to shrink from responsibilities which are so disproportionate to my powers. When I think too, that our institution is attacked by foes without and foes within, how does it heighten the interest and the fearfulness of the undertaking! But my brethren I have not in this respect taken a leap in the dark. 1 know the nature and character of the institution, whose defense I now re-espouse, and I am ready to stand by its interests and to protect them with all my feeble powers."
Such were the encouraging and manly words of one of our Grand Masters, at a time when it required courage and independence to represent the Fraternity in Massachusetts, and to stand forth in vindication of its professions and principles.
Today, after nearly forty years of storm and sunshine, of adversity succeeded by a wonderful prosperity, I repeat his words, feeling similar doubt, weighed down by like responsibilities, but looking forward to the same deliverance which his prophetic eye then clearly saw in the future.
The fact that Masonry was first established upon this continent in Massachusetts, and that this Grand body can trace its history back to 1733, when, as a Province of the Grand Lodge of England, it was organized in this city, probably impressed itself upon our distinguished brother. This is the Mother Grand Lodge upon this side of the waters, and therefore "it lies under greater responsibilities than any other Masonic Body." East and West, North and South has its influence extended. From its own bosom have gone forth brethren distinguished in all the walks of life, to plant in other States and in other lands, the Institution which was here so much respected, Masonry has been carefully cultivated in this State, and this Grand Lodge has always sustained the high character for dignity and respectability, to which, in 1829, it was considered necessary to allude. Those who have been chosen to direct its affairs have been gentlemen of high character and influence, and have reflected back upon the Fraternity that lustre which they have derived from it.
To preserve this dignified position, and transmit to our successors the Grand Lodge unimpaired in influence, untarnished in reputation, undegraded in dignity, becomes now our duty and our care.
At the time referred to a violent political tempest was raging against the Institution, encouraged by many influential men, and such was its fury, that the professed Mason adhered to his obligations and his Lodge at the expense of his social position, and oftentimes of excommunication from his religious society. In our day we have no such ordeal to pass through. We practice our rites undisturbed and enjoy to the fullest extent the popular favor. Men of all classes and conditions, in great numbers flock to our temples and gather about our altars. If brethren, members constitute the successful state of Masonry, then are we indeed fortunate, The number of lodges and of members was never before so large as at the present time, and the outward signs of prosperity were never more encouraging,
In view of the wonderful increase of the Fraternity, the brethren of the Grand Lodge in 1864, determined to erect a temple which should at once be a monument of Masonic enterprise, and a home for the Craft. Reserving the history of this building for a future occasion, I will only add now, that the Temple was constructed at a cost of about $423,127,01. so far as I have been able to gather, and that the Grand Lodge is now indebted to the amount of $377,460,79. The interest which it has assumed to pay annually is $29,882.31, being over $10,000 more than the Grand Lodge was worth when the Inaugural of 1829 was delivered. Before these liabilities accrued, the care of the Grand Lodge was comparatively light, and the duties of the executive officers few.
Now the Grand Lodge has become a corporation, and its financial interests exceed all others. It reckons not by thousands, but by hundreds of thousands of dollars, and it has become a recognized borrower of money in the busy marts of trade. Its notes mature and must be paid. Interest accumulates, bills become due. Thus Masonry which has carefully kept aloof from the influences and excitements of the world, has in a measure become mixed up with them. The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts has thus entered upon its new and untried experiment.
The care of the Lodges, the preservation and perfection of the ritual, charity, which should be our great object, become subordinate to the greater duty of paying our debts and meeting our engagements. The overshadowing importance of our financial embarrassment meets us at every point and oppresses the administration of the affairs of the Grand Lodge. It would be wise for the financial and purely masonic duties of the Grand Lodge, to place them in seperate official departments, so that one should not interfere with the other.
Those brethren in affluent circumstances, familiar with the intricate ways of finance should have charge of the corporation, whatever may be their masonic experience or acquirements. A complete knowledge of our ritual and jurisprudence will not aid in raising money or paying our debts. It is impossible now to say how much would have been saved to the Grand Lodge, if some such plan had been adopted as early as 1864.
The impression exists that the Grand Lodge is exclusive, and that the Fraternity at large has no interest in it. Nothing could be more erroneous. Grand Lodges are comparatively of modern origin. The brethren formerly met in general convention to elect Grand Masters and transact general business for the good of the Craft. Such was the practice in England. In time these conventions became unwieldly, and the necessity arose of forming Grand Lodges, upon the representative principle, by which the administration of Masonic affairs could be conducted with greater regularity and less confusion. The inherent power of a Mason is none the less now than in the days of the "General Assembly".
In our Grand Lodge the Masters and Wardens of the respective Lodges are members. Through them every member of a subordinate Lodge is represented, and the power of the brethren is so far preserved that now, as in ancient times, they have the constitutional right to instruct their Masters and Wardens how to vote and act in Grand Lodge. There is no exclusive power in the Grand Lodge for all time, although in the exercise of its authority the Craft has invested it with authority over all the brethren in the jurisdiction, and to its decrees and edicts unlimited obedience must be paid. "Every warranted Lodge is a constitutional part of the Grand Lodge, in which assembly all the powers of the Fraternity reside," say our own Constitutions. The brethren throughout the jurisdiction elect the Masters and Wardens, who control the destinies of the Grand Lodge, and the brethren of the seperate Lodges can direct the action of their representatives. Thus the decrees, edicts, regulations, and constitutions of the Grand Lodge can be changed and modified whenever the Craft consider it wise so to do.
The power of the Grand Master is unquestionably great, inasmuch as no appeal lies from his decision. But his election occurs annually, in which two thirds of the votes must concur, and the opportunity to remove an arbitrary and unreasonable officer speedily occurs. To make more easy the representation in Grand Lodge, it has been determined that the three votes of each Lodge can be cast, although but one representative is present. In addition to this it is provided that a Lodge can elect a proxy to act for it, when the Masters and Wardens shall not either of them be present. It is apparent that every facility is given to the Fraternity to control the Grand Lodge, and that the rights of every Mason in the jurisdiction are recognized and preserved. As in the General Assembly, he has every privilege save that of a direct vote and voice in Grand Lodge, and these are indirectly preserved to him through the representatives whom he selects, and whose course of conduct he can point out and direct.
The votes in Grand Lodge are thus classified:—
- Permanent Members, 50.
- Officers 42,
- Masters and Wardens, about 525,
The permanent members are many of them aged: some are out of the State, or at such a distance from the Grand East, that they rarely enter the Grand Lodge, while others are enumerated in the list of officers. They are made life members by the votes of the brethren, (with one exception), two thirds of whom must concur in the election. These members, therefore, are chosen by the brethren at large through their representatives, Permanent members undoubtedly acquire influence. They would not be elected such if they did not possess it; they ought not to lose it because they are elected.
The object probably in making this kind of membership in Grand Lodge was to preserve from destruction the Grand Body itself. Whatever calamity might befall the institution at large, or come upon the Lodges, this peculiar membership would perpetuate the Grand Lodge, and protect it from annihilation, Should every Lodge in the jurisdiction cease to exist, the Grand Lodge would not thereby necessarily die. In the calm quiet of its own secluded retreat, it could preserve its vitality, until the proper time came to reestablish its subordinates and again exercise its powers.
Even this precaution did not preserve the Grand Lodge of Michigan from disorganization. In the excitement of anti-Masonry that Grand Body disbanded, and lost its very existence; and when in more peaceful times it sought to renew its life, it was determined by its sister Grand Lodges, that it did not possess it, that its existence had terminated, and that the Grand Lodge of Michigan could be established only by the action of the Lodges of the State.
This membership is a part of our Masonic system, and is as old as the history of Grand Lodges. These members have been selected for their masonic worth and experience by two-thirds of the brethren composing the Grand Lodge, and it is a well known fact that they have never acted nor voted as a unit on any matter upon which the other members of the Grand Lodge have been divided. From what has been said it is evident that the Fraternity at large, the thousands of Masons scattered over Massachusetts, are responsible for the present financial condition of the Grand Lodge. Whatever has been done has met with their tacit consent, their implied approval.
I recognize the right of every member of the Grand Lodge to inquire into our financial affairs, at proper times, and at proper places, and it is due to him and to the brethren whom he represents, that a true and faithful statement be given, if such will not impair the credit of the Grand Lodge, and provided also that the proper officers have it in their power to make it. It has certainly shown great confidence in past administrations, that no brother has called upon the Grand Officers for any exhibit of the expenses of the erection of this building. The contracts which have been made, with whom, and at what rates.
The Board of Directors, I doubt not, would have given every opportunity for a careful, scrutinizing examination of all their proceedings, would have willingly exhibited their records— where should exist in full, the history of the expenditure, and the authority therefor, of every dollar upon this structure, if such request had ever been made.
The argument is irresistible,—
First, — That the representatives of the Fraternity at large directed the building of this Temple.
Second,— That the Fraternity at large by their silence, by taking no steps to prevent it, encouraged their Board of Directors to proceed in the way and manner that they have in its erection.
Third,— That the Fraternity at large are responsible for the debt incurred.
Whether these conclusions are correct or not, the debt incurred is an indebtedness of the Grand Lodge, of which every subordinate Lodge is a constituent part, while every affiliated Mason is a constituent part of his Lodge. It requires, however, no logic to convince the brethren that the debt of the Grand Lodge is a matter in which they each and all have a vital interest. This subject has been presented in various forms, within the last two years. I can only reiterate what has already been said, and if possible, stimulate the brethren to greater exertions in behalf of the Grand Lodge, It needs every dollar which can be raised. The commutation which has already been paid has relieved it from great embarrassment, and it is to be hoped that the balance unpaid may be collected by some plan similar to that which has been resorted to.
I desire about all things to preserve that "dignity and respectability, which has characterized this Grand Lodge in all its past history, and I desire to retain in the office of Grand Master all those powers which belong to it. In the recess of the Grand Lodge, the Grand Master undoubtedly has much authority, and the constitutions and ancient laws recognize it fully,
But when the Grand Lodge is in session, he is the presiding officer of a dignified and respectable assembly of Masons and gentlemen, many of whom are as well, if not better qualified to perform the duties of Grand Master as he is himself. In the Grand Lodge resides all the power of the Grand Master, It makes him presiding officer thereof, and invests him with the authority which he exercises. He is the high servant of the Craft at large. They have placed such confidence in the wisdom of their choice, that they deny the right of appeal from his decisions, And yet, brethren, I should deliberate long, before ruling, that the opinion of the Grand Lodge was not more worthy of consideration than my own. The denial of the right of appeal was unquestionably made for wise purposes, and this great power was placed in the Grand Master for reasons which are obvious to every Mason, but it is a power which is to be exercised only, never capriciously, with great caution, and only when the interests of the Institution absolutely demand it.
The Grand Master is not "Masonry", he is the servant of all, appointed to a high and dignified position, to enforce the rules and regulations, both ancient and modern, made by the Craft, for the government of the Craft. The Grand Lodge is the Supreme Court of Appeal in all Masonic cases: and may be addressed by appeal, petition, or memorial, Inasmuch as it is the governing power in Masonry, the high court of last resort, every facility should be afforded to the members of the craft, and to its subordinates, to lay their grievances and complaints before it in accordance with the constitutions, and to give them patient hearing. Between it and them there should ever exist the fullest confidence, The weight and authority of the one should never oppress the others, and they on their part should ever sustain it in its government. Although its government is despotic, the Grand Lodge should never become the despot.
While wilful and persistent disobedience of the edicts, decrees, and laws of the Grand Lodge should be speedily and certainly punished, I would have its authority so light, that the Lodges and brethren should scarcely recognize its existence. Whether considered as parental or fraternal, lets its government be mild, easy, persuasive.
In entering upon the duties which appertain to the office of Grand Master, I shall endeavor to preserve, as far as possible, the Ancient customs and usages of the Craft, and the old manner of administering the affairs of this office. I have no new ideas to present, no new customs to inaugurate. To the Board of District Deputy Grand Masters, I shall look to perform much of the labor which of late years has found its way into this office. In their several Districts it is expected that they will be Deputy Grand Masters de facto as well as de jure. They have been selected from the Fraternity for their high personal character, their knowledge of Masonic jurisprudence, and their familiarity with the ritual. To them the brethren will have free and easy access for instruction, advice, and the construction of our Regulations and Constitutions. Their respective residences in the several Districts will make these communications at once convenient and agreeable.
Two years ago the Districts were remodeled throughout the Commonwealth. They were arranged, so far as could be done, upon the lines of railroads, that these officers, at little expense, and with great rapidity, could visit their Lodges. The number in each was reduced so that no one except the Boston District should contain more than twelve Lodges. The change was made carefully, with great labor, and was intended to be permanent. After consideration I have made some alterations, which it is hoped will prove beneficial.
The First District comprises the twelve Lodges of Boston proper. To the Second District are, added Faith and John Abbot Lodges. The Third District is composed of the Lodges in South and East Boston, Roxbury, West Roxbury and Dorchester. To the Fourth District are added Bethesda, Dalhousie and Meridian Lodges. To the Twelfth District is added Middlesex Lodge.
Instruction in the lectures and ritual has been confided to three brethren of learning, experience, and of great ability in the art of teaching. The Grand Lodge has placed in their hands the established work of this jurisdiction, which it is not in their power to modify or change. To preserve it in its present verbal form will be their duty as well as their pride. There are many things in the manner of rendering this work, of a dramatic character, which each Lodge will practice according to its pleasure. But to the lectures and ritual as taught by this Grand Lodge, it is expected that every Lodge will conform. To make this ritual more impressive, and the conferring of the degrees more attractive, should, in my judgment be the study and aim of every Master. The introduction of Music, and other adjuncts of a similar nature, have already done much to heighten the interest of the brethren in the exercises of the Lodge.
Until a comparatively recent period it was the custom for every Diploma to pass through the hands of the District Deputy Grand Masters, and for them at the end of each year, to make return of the number furnished to each Lodge. Of late years the Officers of Lodges situated near the Grand East have applied directly to the Grand Secretary, who has furnished these documents ad libitum, in blank and without keeping any account thereof. The bill to the Grand Lodge for Diplomas amounts annually to a large sum, and every effort should be made to reduce it. Under the present system many Diplomas are issued which are never used, and so carelessly have they been kept, that they have found their way, with the signature of the Grand Master and Grand Secretary thereon, into the hands of the profane, and of clandestine masons. It cannot be expected that the officers of Lodges will be more careful of these instruments than the Grand Lodge is. During the present year the Grand Secretary will issue Diplomas to none but the District Deputy Grand Masters, with each of whom he will keep a careful account of the number issued. These Grand Officers will issue to the Lodges such Diplomas as may be required, upon proof satisfactory that they are actually needed for the purposes required; and they will keep an account of the number furnished to each Lodge, and make return thereof to the Grand Lodge at the end of each year. They will see that proper care is taken in their distribution, and at the time of their annual visits to the Lodges they will make examination of the disposition made of them. They will also make return of the number arid names of each Past Master to whom they have issued Diplomas during their official term, and the Grand Secretary will furnish this Diploma to the District Deputies alone, and will keep an account pf the number issued and to whom.
Upon all the Grand Officers let me charge the necessity of a most rigid economy in every department of the Grand Lodge. While the Lodges and the brethren are striving to reduce the debt, let them be encouraged by the knowledge that the expenses of the Grand Lodge are reduced to the lowest possible point.
It is proper and becoming for us upon this anniversary, to implore the Divine blessing upon the labors which we have now undertaken, and to pray that this Grand Lodge protected thus far through the vicissitudes it has passed, may find the same protecting care through the year before us. Let us gratefully remember the manifold blessings and comforts with which a kind Providence has surrounded us, both as an institution and as brethren, Let us return our sincere Thanksgiving to Almighty God for all his mercies toward us. His right hand has led us in safety thus far on our journey through life. Brethren, may the same Heavenly care be over you the coming year! May you return in safety to your homes from your labors here, encouraged to renewed exertions in behalf of Masonry and of our own Grand Lodge!
AT GRAND LODGE, DECEMBER 1869
From Proceedings, Page VII-429, December 9, 1869; directives to District Deputy Grand Masters:
Rt W. District Deputy Grand Masters:
In entering upon your official duties of annually visiting the Lodges in your District, I desire to call your especial notice to the following matters which you will carefully note and make report thereon:—
- You will report the number of Brethren present at each Lodge, on the occasion of your official visit with the number of members.
- You will carefully inspect the Lodge-rooms, and see that they are securely tyled.
- You will see if others besides the proper officers are permitted in the preparation room with the candidate.
- Have the Deacons black rods and the Stewards white rods: and if not, what, if any rods, have they?
- Carefully examine the records and see that they are properly kept, and that the names of all the Officers of the Lodge are recorded.
- Has the Lodge in its Hall a copy of the Grand Lodge Constitutions?
- Are the By-Laws approved by the Grand Lodge, and properly attested by the Grand Secretary?
- Has each Lodge the proper Furniture, and especially the representations of the Three Lesser Lights.
- Is the work in all respects according to the Grand Lodge requirements, and are the services of a Grand Lecturer needed?
- Has the Lodge a Master's Carpet ?
- Ascertain generally the financial condition of each Lodge, and the amount of funds it has invested and on hand.
- If possible, ascertain the manner of examining Visitors, and impress upon the Masters and Officers the necessity of careful examination, and that a Brother must have sat with an applicant to be able to vouch for him, and be enabled to state on what Degree, the Lodge was open when they so sat.
- Examine the records to see if non-affiliated Brethren are admitted without the payment of the fee.
- If possible impress upon the Masters and Brethren the propriety of enforcing the rule that no Brother can enter the Lodge, after it is open without being announced and permission obtained; and in like manner, that none leave the lodge without permission of the W, Master.
- Report the number of Dispensations granted during the year; to what Lodge; for what; when; and the name to whose benefit granted.
- You will take charge of all Lodges under Dispensation in your District not enumerated in your Commission. Viz:—
- Has any Lodge appeared in public procession during the year, and if so upon what occasions, and was your Dispensation obtained therefor.
- Endeavor to make your report as soon as possible after you have performed your circuit.
- Make your bill of expenses to the Grand Lodge, as small as possible, remembering that the Grand Lodge is deeply in debt and requires the strictest economy in the administration of all its affairs.
- Have the officers of Lodges the collars required by the Constitutions, and if not in what manner are the jewels suspended and worn?
These are some of your duties; Others of no less consequence, will impress themselves upon you. Above all strive to be kind, courteous, affable and agreeable to all the Brethren, endeavor to bring them into kindly relations with the Grand Lodge and its Grand Officers, Avoid antagonism, Impress upon the Masters and Wardens the necessity of their attendance upon the Communications of the Grand Lodge, and that the destinies and control of the Grand Lodge are in their hands: and let the Brethren understand that they have their representation through their chosen officers.
Finally, Right Worshipful Brother, remember that you are the only officer of the Grand Lodge who comes in direct and close contact with all the Brethren of your District, and that, as the representative of the Grand Lodge, it is your duty to encourage the zealous Mason, impart instruction where you can, cheer the Lodges, and zealously labor, as a co-worker with your Brethren, to elevate the moral standard of Masonry in the field assigned to you.
AT THE CONSECRATION OF TEMPLE LODGE, MARCH 1871
The following images show Grand Master Gardner's original handwritten manuscript.
From Proceedings, Page 1871-46:
I have not been informed why you selected the name of Temple for your new Lodge; but there is an evident propriety for the name, located as you are in that portion of Boston called East Boston. The famous Temple family was in former times intimately connected with Noddle's Island, the ancient name of East Boston.
Sir Thomas Temple, who first came to New England in 1657, was the owner of the island. It was this Sir Thomas Temple of whom it is related that, "while on a visit to London, he was presented to Charles II., and was permitted to kiss his Majesty's hand. The king discoursed with him on the state of affairs in Massachusetts, and, among other things, he said the Colonies had invaded his right by coining money. Sir Thomas Temple replied that they thought it no crime to make money for their own use; and, taking a piece of our coin from his pocket, presented it to the king. The coin was the pine-tree shilling. Perceiving the tree on the piece, King Charles inquired what kind of a tree it was. " The royal oak," said Temple, "which protected your Majesty's life."
Sir John Temple was born on the island in 1731. He was the first Consul General from England to the United States after the peace of 1783 ; and for some years after 1785, he was the medium of communication from that government to our own, while Great Britain had no minister to this country. He died at New York, in 1798, and a tablet to his memory was placed in the chancel of St. Paul's Church, in that city, upon which is the inscription : —
SACRED TO THE MEMORY
OF SIR JOHN TEMPLE, BARONET,
Consul General to the United States of America
from his Britannic Majesty,
The First Appointed to this Country
after its Independence.
D I E D :
In the City of New York, November 17, 1798.
Thus, Brethren, you have preserved in your new Lodge the name of a family most intimately associated with the island on which you are located, honored and respected in history, and worthy of remembrance.
AT THE DEDICATION OF THE LOWELL MASONIC HALL, FEBRUARY 1872
From the booklet printed by Stone & Huse, Lowell, 1872:
The town of Chelmsford was organized, primarily as a religious parish, in the year 1655, in Colonial times, almost fifty years before the Royal Charter of William and Mary incorporating the Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England. As late as 1699 it was classed among the frontier towns of the Province, being particularly exposed to the depredations and violence of the savage enemy. It was sparsely populated for many years, but with the growth of the country it steadily increased. In the war of the Revolution it had become a town of considerable note, and contributed a company to the Twenty-Seventh Regiment of foot, in the Continental Army, which company, commanded by Captain John Ford, was engaged "in the memorable battle of Breed's commonly called Bunker's Hill."
At the commencement of the present century, Chelmsford was a large town with several villages or settlements, the most enterprising of which was the one at the Falls on Merrimack River. In 1792, the "Proprietors of the Middlesex Merrimack River Bridge" were incorporated. This company erected a bridge over the River at the Falls, between Chelmsford and Dracut, over which ran the general course of travel between Boston and Concord, N. H. In the same year the "Proprietors of the Locks and Canals on Merrimack River" were chartered for the purpose, as stated in the act of incorporation, of "rendering Merrimack River passable with boats, rafts and masts, from the divisional line of New Hampshire and Massachusetts to the tide-waters of said River." This company confined its labors to the construction of the Canal around the Falls. These enterprises made the village at the Falls of consequence; with the travel across the Bridge, fishing upon the River, lumbering and transportation through the Canal, an enterprising and industrious community gathered and grew up at Pawtucket Falls, on Merrimack River.
The middle of the town, so called, was an attractive centre. Middlesex Village upon the River was also a thriving place. It was the head of the Middlesex Canal, which was chartered in 1793, and completed in 1804, and which extended from tide-water at Charlestown to Merrimack River. Glass works were established at this village, and later, other manufacturing establishments. At this time St. Paul Lodge at Groton, and Corinthian Lodge at Concord, were each in a flourishing state, having been organized in 1797, under the grand mastership of Josiah Bartlett. (Note: these were actually chartered by Grand Master Revere.) There were other Lodges in Middlesex County, at Framingham, Lexington, Marlboro', and at Charlestown.
In 1807, there were several Brethren residing at Chelmsford, Dracut, and Tewksbury. The nearest Lodge to their residences was at Concord, fourteen miles distant, while the Lodge at Groton was fifteen miles away. It appeared to them that the growing importance of the village at the Falls was such as to justify them in establishing a Lodge at this place, which would be convenient to them. Early in that year, after carefully considering the importance of the step they were undertaking, a petition for a chartered Lodge was prepared and signed. At the quarterly meeting of the Grand Lodge, held March 9th, 1807, the "Petition for a Charter to hold a Lodge at Chelmsford, County of Middlesex, by the name of Pentucket Lodge," was granted, after the request had received most serious consideration. The name given to the Lodge was undoubtedly intended to be that of the Indian name of the Falls. The legislative acts incorporating the Bridge Company and the Proprietors of the Locks and Canals, call them Patucket Falls. We read of "the Sachem Wonolanset, who lived by the Great Falls of 'Patucket,' on the Merrimack," and of grants of land upon the petition of the Whites, on which the "Patuckets" were settled. Hutchinson and Governor Belcher call the Falls Patucket. The word has been differently spelled, Patucket and Pawtucket, Pentucket aud Pantucket. Gookin and Allen, both good authorities, claim that Pawtucket is the correct name.
Pentucket, or as it was sometimes called Pantucket, was the Indian name of Haverhill, further down the Merrimack. Our Brethren there have a Chapter which they style "Pentucket Chapter of Royal Arch Masons." We can fairly presume that the founders of the Lodge intended the name of Pawtucket or Patucket, rather than Pentucket.
The charter for Pentucket Lodge was executed and dated March 9th, 1807. Timothy Bigelow signed it as Grand Master. He was a distinguished lawyer, and largely engaged in public affairs. During twenty years he was a member of the State Legislature, and eleven years Speaker of the House of Representatives. In 1807 he removed from Groton, where he was a member of St. Paul Lodge, to Medford. As his Masonic associations brought him into connection with the petitioners for the Pentucket charter, some of whom were members of St. Paul Lodge, it is evident that he was enabled to present to the Grand Lodge all the advantages which would accrue to the fraternity and to the petitioners, by granting their request.
The records of Pentucket Lodge show no minute of any meeting until December 10th, 1807, about nine months after the charter was granted. Meetings of the Lodge had undoubtedly been held prior to this date, as the record of December 10th shows that the Lodge was duly organized. There is no person now living who was then a member. Some years since, Past Master Artemas Holden, then a resident of this city, when eighty-four years of age, stated that he was one of the first initiates, having been entered in 1808, and that there had been meetings for lectures and organizations, but that no work was done prior to December, 1807.
On the 10th of December, the Lodge met at the hall of Phineas Whiting, where it had previously met from time to time for rehearsals and social enjoyment. Mr. Whiting was the father of Phineas Whiting, Esq., of this city, and the house alluded to is now destroyed. It was located almost upon the site of the mansion house of Frederick Ayer, Esq., at the corner of School and Pawtucket Streets, near Pawtucket Bridge. The hall was large and capacious, in the rear of the main house, and was accessible by means of a stairway upon the outside of the building. At the head of the stairs was a small ante-room, through which the Brethren passed to the hall. At the outside door of this ante-room was stationed the Tyler, with his threatening, drawn sword, who was frequently annoyed, and disturbed in his duties, by inquisitive village juveniles.
At the first meeting in this hall there were present six Brethren, viz.: Captain Isaac Coburn, W. Master; Jonathan Fletcher, S. Warden; Jeremiah S. Chapman, J. Warden; David Hayden, Secretary; John Chapman, Jr.; Jonas Clark. The record states that they tyled by turns. The insecurity of the hall may be learned from the fact that on the 4th of April, 1808, a committee of two was chosen to "provide something to hang at the windows to secure the Lodge." The building was a public house, and the hall was attached to the tavern, and put to such general uses as were common in those days. It was probably the largest, if not the only, hall in the town.
The Lodge was not consecrated and its officers installed until October, 1809. It was not usual in those days to grant dispensations preliminary to a charter. The charter was issued upon the petition of the Brethren, under which they immediately went to work, and if they exhibited sufficient zeal and proficiency in due time, after proper probation, the Lodge was constituted and the officers installed.
The installment of Pentucket Lodge took place October 12th, 1809, and was conducted with much ceremony and parade. Isaiah Thomas, Esq., of Worcester, was Grand Master, but he was not personally present. He deputed Timothy Whiting, Esq., of Lancaster, his District Deputy Grand Master of the Fifth Masonic District, to which District Pentucket was assigned, to act for him upon this interesting occasion.
The Grand Lodge was opened in the morning, in a room provided for the Grand Officers in Mr. Whiting's house, by R. W. Timothy Whiting, assisted by a full complement of officers, numbering sixteen in all. Among them was John Abbot, of Westford, as J. G. Warden, afterwards from 1823 to 1825, and again in 1833, Grand Master, and who in 1825 laid the corner-stone of the monument on Bunker Hill, assisted by the Marquis De LaFayette. Caleb Butler, of Groton, was also present as Corresponding Grand Secretary, who in 1840 and '41 was Grand Master. There was also present Benjamin Russell, of Boston, as Grand Marshal, who was Grand Master three years from 1813. Other distinguished Brethren were present as Grand Officers. The Brethren of Pentucket Lodge assembled at Mr. Joel Spalding's house, the grandfather of Brother Joel Spalding, M. D., of this city, Past Grand Warden. His house was upon the opposite corner of Pawtucket Street, and is now occupied by Dr. Spalding. After the Grand Lodge was formally opened the Deputy Grand Master directed the Grand Marshal to inform the W. Master of Pentucket Lodge, that the Grand Lodge was ready to receive any communication which the Lodge wished to make. Thereupon a committee of the Lodge waited on the Grand Lodge and informed the Deputy Grand Master " that the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge had been pleased to grant them a Charter of Constitution, bearing date the 9th of March, A. L. 5807; that since that time they had regularly assembled and conducted the business of Masonry according to the best ability, and their proceedings had met the approbation of the Grand Lodge; that they were desirous their Lodge should be consecrated and its officers installed agreeably to ancient usage and custom, for which purpose they were now assembled and waited the pleasure of the Grand Master."
The Grand Lodge was then escorted by a band of music to Spalding's Hall, and received in due form by Pentucket Lodge. After the usual ceremonies on such occasions, the Master of Pentucket Lodge having been duly "invested with the Characteristicks of the Chair," a grand procession was formed, composed of the Grand Lodge, Pentucket Lodge, and St. Paul Lodge of Groton, preceded by a band of music. It was a beautiful October morning. The bright sun brought out in their richest colors the variegated tints of the foliage, touched by the autumnal frosts. The air was pure and invigorating. The procession marched gaily over the Bridge, the roar of the Falls beneath almost drowning the strains of martial music. The jewels and regalia of the Craft flashed in the sunlight, as they marched in this first Masonic procession, to lay the foundations of a Society in this new region. On they went until they arrived at the meeting-house just over the Bridge, and which is now standing. Into this building the procession filed, and after them poured in the astonished spectators, to whom the scene was novel and inexplicable.
The services were opened with music, and followed by a prayer, offered by Rev. and R. W. Thomas Beede, of Wilton, N. H. The Rev. Wilkes Allen, A. M., then of Vergennes, Vermont, and afterwards "pastor of the church and society in Chelmsford," delivered "an elegant and enlightened discourse." Then came the consecration of Pentucket Lodge, with the consecrating prayer by Rev. Brother Ripley, of Concord. These services were followed by the installation of the officers, and a solemn and impressive charge by the Deputy Grand Master. Music was again given, and the benediction was pronounced by Brother Ripley.
The procession was resumed shortly after High Twelve and returned to Mr. Whiting's Hall, where several of the Reverend Clergy and other Gentlemen joined with the Fraternity and partook of a "sumptuous refreshment," after which a number of toasts were drank.
The Brethren then passed a vote of thanks to Deputy Grand Master Whiting, and to the Rev. Brother Allen for their "truly masonic and excellent performances," and requested copies of each for the press. The discourse of Rev. Wilkes Allen was published, and a copy is here present. After the day was over, the Grand Lodge returned to the room where it had been opened, and was then closed in due form. Pentucket Lodge was also closed.
Thus constituted under most brilliant auspices, Pentucket Lodge commenced its career as a regularly constituted Lodge, in the town of Chelmsford. It continued to meet in Whiting's Hall for two years and about two months, when it was removed to the hall of Brother Jonathan Fletcher, the Senior Warden. This hall was in a house which was standing ten years since, situated on the south side of Pawtucket Street, and the next east of the mansion house of the late Nathaniel Wright, now occupied by Brother Thomas G. Gerrish. A few years since it was tenanted by P. M. Jefferson Bancroft. The hall was arched, and although since its use as such, it had been cut up into rooms, the general form of the old hall was easily seen, before the house was removed. Until October 8th, 1810, the Lodge had held its regular meetings on Monday, but at this time it was decided that it should be changed to Thursday, which has ever since remained the regular Lodge day of Pentucket.
March 31st, 1814, the Lodge met at the hall of James Bowers, who had made purchase of the Jonathan Fletcher estate, and was the same hall in which it had met since October, 1810.
On the 12th of October, 1815, the Brethren voted to remove to Otis Spalding's hall, a three-story building next beyond the house occupied by Samuel Parker, Esq., at Middlesex Village. But it appears that this vote was not complied with. The Lodge met at Fletcher's hall for about six years. January 10th, 1816, it assembled at the house of Artemas Holden. This house was on the north side of Pawtucket Street, the first east of Mr. Frederick Ayer's; the site is now occupied by the residence of Mr. George W. Shattuck.
But one meeting was held here, and this was probably for the purpose of lectures, and the transaction of some business of little importance. Brother Holden had at great labor perfected himself in the ritual, having boarded for this purpose three weeks in the family of Brother John Abbot, at Westfoid. This meeting at Brother Holden's house was undoubtedly held for his convenience, in order that he might impart the instruction which he had received at Westford to his officers, preparatory to the labors of the Lodge. The next day, January 11th, 1816, the Lodge met at Simeon Spalding's hall, at the middle of the town, so called. The Spalding house is still standing near the meeting-house, and can readily be distinguished by its brick ends. The first meeting in this hall must have been an occasion of more than ordinary interest, and probably for the purpose of dedication, The Rev. Brother Wilkes Allen, who resided at this village, delivered a discourse.
It is evident that there existed at this time among some of the Brethren, a jealousy against the village at the Falls, and the cause may have originated in the increased business and growth of this important point on Merrimack River. The residence of the Rev. Mr. Allen at the middle of the town, may have added to the strength of those who resided in the other villages. August 17th, 1817, the opposition advanced so far as to raise a committee charged to consider the expediency of changing the name of the Lodge. Probably those friendly to removing to the Falls, claimed that by reason of the name, there was great propriety in the Lodge being located there, and that its name indicated the place where it should be held. This excitement, however, declined, and the committee made no report.
A committee was raised May 14th, 1814. to consider the expediency of fitting up a hall for the accommodation of the Lodge. At the annual meeting in October of this year, a Chaplain and a Marshal were chosen for the first time, no such officers having been previously needed.
On the 7th of January, 1819, the Committee appointed in May, 1814, to consider the expediency of fitting up a hall, were ordered to report in writing at the next meeting. February 4th, 1819, they reported that —
"Mr. Wood will finish his hall in May next, and let it with the appendages' to the Lodge for twenty dollars per year, for the purpose of holding meetings in; and that Brother Daniel Tuck will finish his hall, and yive the use of it to the Lodge for two years, with the appendages, and after that time will let the same to the Lodge for twelve dollars per year, for the purpose of holding meetings in."
After this report was made, Brother E. Adams remarked that in case the Lodge should remove to Mr. Wood's hall, he was authorized to say that one year's rent would be given to the Lodge ; and Brother Israel Hildreth said, in that case he was authorized to offer another year's rent free from Brother Tuck. On motion of Brother Allen to accept Brother Tuck's offer of his hall, it was voted not to accept it. A vote was then taken to accept Mr. Wood's offer.
Thus it appears that there was considerable competition between Mr. Wood and Brother Tuck, and that the feelings of the members were deeply interested in the contest.
Brother Tuck's house was situated at North Chelmsford, and near the residence of General Adams. Mr. Wood's hall was at Middlesex Village, and in the three-story house next west of that now occupied by Samuel Parker, Esq., the second house on the north side of the road leading to North Chelmsford, west of the old Middlesex Canal. Until recently the hall remained substantially as it did when occupied by the Lodge.
Middlesex Village was at this time a flourishing place. The Canal which here connected with the River was doing an extensive business in the transportation of freight and passengers. Glass works were in full operation near by. Hat manufactories and other business were carried on to some extent, and the importance of this place as a central point for the location of the Lodge was clearly seen by the Brethren.
Allusion has been made to Brother Israel Hildreth, in the discussion concerning the removal of the Lodge. He was a citizen of Dracut, a physician, the father of Fisher A. Hildreth, Esq., of this city, and father-in-law of General Butler. He was a man of remarkable talents, full of blandishments, elegant in his address, effective in speech. As Master of the Lodge his reputation survives him. No Dne who saw him preside in the East, and witnessed his conferring the degrees, could ever forget the occasion. There are some present who have seen him as a witness in Court, in the later years of his life, giving the common-place evidence which from other men would have attracted no notice; but when he spoke, all eyes were directed towards him, all voices were hushed; an unusual stillness pervaded the court-room, and as he told his story in a melodious but gentle voice, in the purest language, with the clearest, most vivid description, and with an intonation which cannot be described, the effect was irresistible. He was born a gentleman and an orator.
On the 8th of April, 1819, it was decided not to summon the members to attend the next regular Lodge-night to determine the question of removing the Lodge.
April 22nd, 1819, the Lodge voted (eighteen to eleven) that the Lodge be removed to the hall of S. F. Wood, near the head of the Canal, after an ineffectual attempt to refer the whole matter to disinterested Brethren, whose determination should be final.
The Lodge was held at the house of Simeon Spalding, in the middle of the town, three years and four months. May Gth, 1819, it met for the first time at the hall of S. F. Wood, at Middlesex Village.
In the days we are now alluding to, it was customary at each meeting to call the Craft from "labor to refreshment." Visitors were admitted upon their first visit free, but afterwards they were expected to pay twenty-five cents, if they partook of refreshments. From this custom originated the rule (until quite recently a regulation of Pentucket Lodge) that no visiting Brother shall be admitted more than twice without permission of the Master—that they should not be permitted to live upon the Lodge, and enjoy its hospitality, without contributing something to its support. In the change of times this rule is now of as much importance to the Craft as it was in those days of eating and drinking.
In 1819 it became apparent that the expenses of the Lodge were too great, and that recourse must be had to some economical plan to relieve it from embarrassment. Accordingly, November 25th, 1819, a committee was appointed to propose refreshments less expensive than those which had been provided. The same evening the committee reported that the refreshments of the Lodge shall be crackers and cheese, and the liquors rum and gin. This report was accepted for six months.
The following May, a committee raised for the same purpose, recommended "bread and cyder," and it was accepted. March 13th, 1821, it was voted that the refreshments in future be composed of "bread, biscuit and cheese."
Thus at this early date, some years before temperance as a moral reform was preached and inculcated upon the basis of total abstinence, and years before the community was generally excited upon the question, Pentucket Lodge took the foremost step in that great reform which has since pervaded all classes of society, and upon which volumes have been written by the philanthropist, and political economist. It is matter of much interest that the Masonic Fraternity thus early awoke to the evil of the use of intoxicating liquors at every meeting of the Lodge. Columbian Lodge, of Boston, in 1821, made a similar reform, and it is fair to presume that the movement was general among the Lodges of Massachusetts.
It was voted, March 7th, 1822, to celebrate the approaching St. John's Day, and the day was celebrated by the Lodge, the particulars of which cannot be obtained, but it is presumed that it included a procession with the presence of other Lodges, a dinner, and a sermon or oration.
The Lodge met at the house of Mr. S. F. Wood for six years and two months, and on the 25th of August, 1825, it was opened in the hall of Messrs. Balch & Coburn, at East Chelmsford, as it was then called. This hall was attached to the stone house, erected and completed in 1825, on Pawtucket Street, now the mansion house of Dr. James C. Ayer, and was the large hall connected with the public house. Beneath the hall was an open space used as a shed, under which horses and carriages were driven. The old hall is now part of the dwelling-house occupied by Brother W. F. Salmon, Past Grand Warden.
At this period the great changes which were taking place in that part of Chelmsford, now the city of Lowell, had rendered the other villages in town comparatively unimportant. The Merrimack Mills had been erected in 1823, and the first return of cloth made in November of that year. The large machine shop was completed in 1825. In 1824, our Reverend and now venerable Brother, Dr. Theodore Edson, was engaged as a clergyman, and here celebrated public religious services. Canals were dug, mills erected, a newspaper (the Lowell Courier) established, and when the Lodge was removed to this hall, in 1825, it became part of a thriving, enterprising town.
The last meeting of the Lodge holden within the corporate limits of the old town of Chelmsford, was on the 16th of February, 1826. "An Act to incorporate the town of Lowell," became the law of the land, March 1st, 1826, and when, on the next day (March 2nd, 1826) the Lodge again met at the ho* el of Messrs. Balch and Coburn, Pentucket Lodge, without any act of its members or of the Grand Lodge, assembled in the town of Lowell, and here, in this town and city, all its subsequent meetings have been held.
The charter of Pentucket Lodge bears an indorsement made by Thomas Powers, Grand Secretary, without date, stating that a part of Chelmsford, in which Pentucket Lodge-room was and now is located, was by an act of the Commonwealth made a new town by the name of Lowell, and that the Lodge is authorized to meet in said town of Lowell. It does not appear that the Grand Lodge took any action upon this matter. It was probably done by order of the Grand Master. With the town of Lowell came thrift, enterprise, zeal, industry and increase. At the special meeting held March 2nd, 1826, a committee was raised to purchase new furniture, new carpet, a painting of winding stairs, two pillars and other articles. Eleven new petitions were received.
The incentive given to the Lodge induced the Brethren to apply to the proper authority for Dispensation to open a Royal Arch Chapter. This was obtained, dated April 8th, 1826, and on the 12th of the same month the first meeting was held, Companion Daniel Balch in the chair. At the second meeting, April 17th, eight petitions were presented.
On Wednesday, May 31st, 1826, the corner-stone of the First Baptist Church in Lowell, on the corner of Church and George Streets, was laid by Pentucket Lodge, assisted by Mt. Horeb Royal Arch Chapter, and numerous Brethren from the neighboring towns. A procession was formed at Merrimack Hotel, corner of Merrimack and Dutton Streets, and more recently known as the Merrimack House, at 10 o'clock, A. M., under escort of the Lowell Light Infantry and Mechanic Phalanx. The ceremony of laying the corner-stone was performed by W. John Fletcher, Master of Pentucket Lodge. Prayers were offered, and an appropriate address delivered by Rev. Brother John Cookson. An ode, written for the occasion, was sung by a choir.
After the ceremony, the Brethren repaired to Carter's Hotel, now the Washington House, on the corner of Church and Central Streets, where about three hundred partook of dinner, after which toasts succeeded. There were ten regular toasts, and several volunteered, by Daniel Balch, Benjamin Mather, C. Blood, Joseph Bedlow, Joshua Swan, R. Nichols and William Davis.
It does not appear by what authority the Lodge performed this service.
Clinton Lodge was chartered at Billerica, June 14th, 1826, and on Wednesday, 26th of July, was "publicly installed" in the Congregational Meeting-House in that town, by District Deputy Grand Master William Whiting. The procession, in which appeared Pentucket Lodge, was escorted to the Meeting-House, by the Billerica Light Infantry. A stage was erected in front of the pulpit, which, with the galleries, were decorated with evergreen. Rev. Barnard Whitman, of Waltham, delivered an oration. A dinner was provided at Hoit's Hotel. Dr. Zadoc Howe was the Master, and the late Marshall Preston, for many years Assistant Clerk of the Courts for this County, was Secretary.
Ahasuerus Council of Select Masters was established at Lowell, July 6th, 1826, and a Constitution and By-Laws adopted and signed. It was a self-constituted body, having no charter. The Grand Council of Massachusetts was first organized in June, 1826, and after correspondence, Ahasuerus Council acknowledged it, August 15th, 1827, and requested to be constituted as a Council under its jurisdiction. But no charter was given to this Council until after it was revived, December 9th, 1856.
Among its original By-Laws is the following:
"The degrees of Select Master, Royal Master, and Super-Excellent Master shall be conferred in the Sanctuary in their order. Each candidate depositing previously for the same, the sum of seven dollars. Other ineffable degrees of the Consistory may be conferred at the pleasure of the Council."
If Ahasuerus Council claimed jurisdiction over the high grades of the Consistory, it does not appear by its records that it ever in fact attempted to confer the degrees.
At a meeting of the Grand Chapter held at Boston, June 13th, 1826, the dispensation granted April 8th, 1826, to Mt. Horeb Royal Arch Chapter, of Lowell, was extended to one year from its date. Notwithstanding this vote, a charter was duly executed, dated August 3rd, 1826,* signed by the Grand Officers and duly sealed, and is the one under which the Chapter now acts. The records of the Grand Chapter do not show that it was ever granted by that Grand Body. This charter declares the precedence of the Chapter to commence from April 8th, 1826, the date of the dispensation.
The Chapter was consecrated and its officers installed, August 31st, 1826. The Grand Chapter, composed of seventeen Grand Officers, the Rev. Paul Dean, Grand High Priest, and Augustus Peabody, his Deputy, both of whom were afterwards chosen Grand Masters, was formally opened at the Merrimack Hotel, in Lowell. A procession was formed at the Hotel at High Twelve, consisting of the Grand Chapter, Concord R. A. Chapter, which had been consecrated on the 16th of the same August, Pentucket Lodge, Clinton Lodge, and a large number of other Brethren, with a band of music. They proceeded to St. Anne's Church. In front of the altar a stage was erected, the entrance to which was at the back side, under an imposing arch of twenty-four feet span, elegantly dressed and tastefully wreathed and festooned with evergreen and flowers. At the top of the steps, on each side, were two columns, likewise two on the front of the stage, one at each corner, which were wreathed with evergreen, and surmounted with a basket of flowers. The address was delivered by Rev. Companion Charles O. Kimball, Chaplain of Mt. Horeb R. A. Chapter. After the solemn ceremonies of consecration and installation, the procession marched over a dusty road, made memorable by the sultry heat, to the Stone House at the Falls, where in the Masonic Hall they partook of a sumptuous entertainment.
Previous to its consecration the Chapter hud appointed a committee in relation to a new hall. It was occupying the hall of Pentucket Lodge, and enjoying its furniture, under a vote passed by the Lodge, April 20th, 1826. The Chapter was not satisfied with the accommodations afforded, and October 12th, 1826, the Lodge raised a committee to confer with the Chapter committee concerning a new hall. The Lodge committee reported in favor of remaining at the Stone House, and that a removal was inexpedient. January 11th, 1827, a new committee was appointed by the Lodge, consisting of five, to procure a hall for the year ensuing, the report of the committee to be binding. In the December previous, the Chapter had voted (seventeen to two) to accept the report of its committee in favor of the new hall, and on the 24th of January, 1827, it had voted that the Lodge should use the hall, paying half the rent, and be on equal footing with the Chapter as to "fixtures, lights, &c." February 8th, 1827, the Lodge committee reported "that they had endeavored to keep in view that friendship and brotherly love which ought ever to exist among Masons, and notwithstanding the different opinions which have been called forth relative to the removal of the Lodge to a more retired room, your committee, taking into view the connection between the Chapter and the Lodge, and many other circumstances connected therewith, have agreed with Mt. Horeb R. A. Chapter, for the use of their hall, now finishing in the brick block lately erected by the Merrimack Manufacturing Company, on the following terms: that the Lodge pay half of the rent of said hall, which is sixty dollars a year, and that they be on equal footing with the Chapter in regard to fixtures of the hall, fuel, lights, &c." A committee was then appointed to join a committee from the Chapter to make arrangements for dedicating the new hall. This hall was in the brick block at the corner of Merrimack and Worthen Streets, and for many years was well-known by the name of Mason's Hall. It was dedicated by the Lodge and Chapter February 28th, 1827, R. W. Daniel Balch, High Priest, acting as Grand Master, Rev. Companion C. 0. Kimball and John Cookson, as Grand Chaplains. The Rev. Brother Theodore Edson delivered an address, and in the language of the Chapter and Lodge records, the performance was solemn and highly interesting to a brilliant and listening audience. A Royal Arch sash and apron were voted by the Chapter to Brother Theodore Edson, and, with a vote of thanks, a copy of his address was requested for publication. The correspondence appears at length upon the Chapter records. The request was declined by Brother Edson; among other considerations expressed, because of an "extreme reluctance of obtruding on the public."
In March, 1827, "Ahasuerus Council of Royal and Select Masters" was admitted to the use of the hall and furniture at thirty dollars a year. The new hall was fitted up elegantly for the times with carpet, glass chandelier from the New England Glass Company, canopies and good furniture. The chair of the W. Master, which has been used hitherto, and is now placed in the East of the small hall in this Temple, is a relic of the furniture of Mason's Hall.
The Lodge met at the hall of the Stone House two years and six months, and was then with the Chapter and Council firmly established in Mason's Hall.
At the request of the First Methodist Episcopal Society in Lowell, the corner-stone of their Meeting-House, on the corner of Central and Elm Streets, was laid with Masonic ceremonies, May 30th, 1827, by R. W. William Whiting, of Concord, D. Deputy Grand Master for this District, then numbered the fifth. The Lodge and Chapter joined in the procession. Prayer was offered by Rev. Brother Theodore Edson, Chaplain of Pentucket Lodge. An appropriate address was delivered by Rev. Brother J. M. Maffit, a distinguished revival preacher. The ceremonies were interspersed with sacred music. This Meeting-House was generally called the Methodist Chapel and gave the name to Chapel Hill. Some years since it was removed to Prescott Street, where it was occupied by a religious society. More recently it has been used for business purposes, under the name of "Industrial Hall."
Monday, June 25th, 1827, Clinton Lodge, at Billerica, celebrated St. John's Day, assisted by Concord and Mt. Horeb R. A. Chapters, and Pentucket and Hiram Lodges. Rev. Paul Dean delivered an address at the Meeting-House in Billerica, followed by dinner and toasts.
Pentucket Lodge celebrated St. John's day, in June, 1828, in conjunction with the Chapter and Lodges from other places. The Rev. Brother E. W. Freeman delivered an address at the First Baptist Meeting-House, on Church Street. The dinner was at Brother L. Carter's Hotel, now the Washington House. The Lowell Courier of that day has an extended notice of this celebration. It remarks that prayers were offered by Rev. Mr. Barnaby, of Deerfield, Rev. Mr. Allen, of Chelmsford, and Rev. Mr. Albro, of Middlesex Village. Reading selections from the Scriptures, by Rev. Mr. Edson, of Lowell. Rev. Mr. Freeman, of Lowell, delivered the oration. The exercises were listened to with attention and interest. Several toasts were drank, among them this:
"Morgan Masonry—Like muddy water, subsiding after a violent agitation, the eye of the public will soon be permitted to see the filth and corruption of the sediment."
The toast given at the celebration in 1828, was an indication of the existence of that most remarkable movement against the society of Freemasonry, which between 1828 and 1834 controlled the politics of several States in the Union, and tested the courage, integrity and honor of the members of the Craft. There is not time, neither is this the occasion, to convey to you any conception of its extent and virulence. There are some brave men and faithful Brethren still living among you, interested in the services of this day, and grateful for the occasion which has brought us together, who bore the pitiless storm of this heartless and fanatical persecution in silent dignity and meek submission. The opposition against Freemasonry originated in the alleged abduction of William Morgan in September, 1826, for the purpose of suppressing the publication of a work purporting to be a true expose! of the secrets of the institution. Morgan was born in Virginia, and prior to his disappearance had resided about three years in Batavia, New York. It appears from evidence given at trials of several persons convicted of being accessory to his abduction, that he was conducted to Fort Niagara, on the border of Lake Ontario, and there incarcerated, but what was his subsequent fate did not transpire. No trace of him has been found to this day.
The institution of Freemasonry was charged with his removal and subsequent murder. The worst feelings were excited against the Society and its members. Ridiculous, scandalous and false charges were made and disseminated through an excited community. The destruction of the ancient institution was openly avowed, although it was composed of many patriotic, wise and upright men, whose characters were pure, and who had been honored by public and private esteem. "A blind, self-righteous, uncharitable fanaticism fanned the flame of excitement into a persecution, at once malignant and unsparing, which became more effective through the machinations of demagogues who sought to turn the prejudices of the community to the promotion of their plans of ambition." The town of Lowell and its vicinity did not escape, in this general persecution.
The Chapter had expended much money in the decorations and furniture of its new hall, and was deeply in debt. September 7th, 1829, a committee was appointed to confer with the Lodge, and see if it would purchase the furniture belonging to the Chapter. The 10th of the same September a committee of the Lodge appointed to consider the expediency of purchasing the Chapter furniture, reported that it was inexpedient. This is the first intimation upon the Lodge or Chapter records of the tempest which was gathering.
The debt of the Chapter, amounting to eight hundred and ninety-four dollars and eight cents, was paid by loans made by its members. The amounts of these individual loans are set out in full upon the Chapter records. A meeting of the Chapter was held April 1st, 1833. No meetings were again held until July 1st, 1836, M. E. Joseph Bedlow, High Priest, when it was voted that the furniture be sold and the proceeds applied to extinguishing the debt. Companion Joshua Swan was chosen auctioneer, and a committee, appointed for the purpose, determined what should be sold. The Grand Chapter of Massachusetts, March 10th, 1840, revoked the charter of Mt. Horeb R. A. Chapter. The last meeting of Ahasuerus Council was held April 7th, 1830.
The Lodge lingered on until 1834. In April, 1830, a committee was chosen to select Masonic orations, funeral addresses, &c, to be read in the Lodge at such times as there was nothing else to attend to. The Lodge and Chapter had provided a reading-room in 1828.
March 2nd, 1834, the last recorded meeting of Pentucket Lodge was held in Mason's Hall.
"As if in mockery of long-cherished hopes,
There rose unfinished walls, the Craftsmen gone,
The trowel resting on the half-set stone,
And silence reigning o'er the sad'ning scene."
The charter, jewels, and property of the Lodge were surrendered to the Grand Lodge, the furniture divided among the Brethren, or sold at auction, and a long, dark night settled down' upon Masonry in Lowell. The Lodge had occupied Mason's Hall ten years, saving a few months. It had removed there in the noonday blaze of jubilant prosperity; it left in the midnight of adversity and grief.
"The earth beneath the sombre night
But waits the dawning of new light
To kindle up the streams and rills,
To sweep the darkness from the hills;
And come it will, whate'er the clime,
Whate'er the season or the time;—
So will a cheerful light return,
Unto the humblest hearts that mourn,
If they believe this truthful strain,
'The setting sun will rise again.'"
Long and dreary as the night proved to be, the day-spring from on high at last ushered in the dawn of a day in whose meridian brightness we have gathered upon this pleasant occasion.
Several Brethren met at the Merrimack House, on the corner of Merrimack and Dutton Streets, July 14th, 22nd, 29th and August 5th, in the year 1845, to consider the propriety of re-establishing Pentucket Lodge at Lowell. Measures were immediately taken to secure the hall in Tappan Wentworth's Building, at the corner of Merrimack and Shattuck Streets. August 14th and 19th they met at Wentworth's Hall, as well as August 21st and 28th, and September 4th and 11th of the same year.
September 10th, 1845, Jesse Phelps, Daniel Balch, Joshua Swan, Colburn Blood, Jr., Ransom Reed, Jefferson Bancroft, and Joel Adams, petitioned the Grand Lodge for a restoration of the charter of Pentucket Lodge, its jewels and its property; and at the Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge in September, 1845, the prayer of the petitioners was granted. Pentucket Lodge was reopened September Kith, 1845, after a lapse of eleven years, six months, and fourteen days, at the dwelling house of Brother Jesse Phelps, on the Merrimack Corporation, on the westerly side of Dutton Street, a few doors north from Merrimack Street. The Lodge met at the same place September 22nd and 27th. Pentucket Lodge held its first meeting in Wentworth's Hall October 2nd, 1845, and again commenced its career of usefulness.
At the quarterly meeting of the Grand R. A. Chapter of Massachusetts, held at Boston, March 10th, 1846, the petition of Daniel Balch, Jefferson Bancroft, Edward Sherman, Joseph Bedlow, Jesse Phelps, Joshua Swan, Elbridge Joslyn, Solon Stevens, Maynard Bragg, A.. W. Fisher, and Colburn Blood, Jr., of Lowell, formerly members of Mount Horeb Royal Arch Chapter, praying that the charter of said Chapter may be restored to thein was presented, read, and committed to Companions E. A. Raymond, C. W. Moore, and Joel Talbot. The Committee recommended that the Chapter be permitted to resume its labors, which was accepted. It is doubtful whether the charter was ever formally surrendered to the possession of the Grand Chapter; there is no indorsement upon it. The first meeting of Mount Horeb Royal Arch was held April 6th, 1846, Companion Joseph Bedlow presiding, in Wentworth's Hall.
The Lodge increased in numbers. In 1851 and 1852 it became apparent that the establishment of another Lodge in this thriving and growing city was necessary. Pentucket Lodge cordially gave permission to several of its members to form a new Lodge in Lowell. The name of Ancient York, suggested by Brother Elisha Huntington, and R. W. Charles W. Moore, of Boston, was fixed upon, and Grand Master Randall granted a dispensation dated June 9th, 1852 ; W. Jefferson Bancroft, who in 1828, had presided over Pentucket, was appointed Master. The establishment of Ancient York Lodge created a generous rivalry between the two Lodges, and its effect was soon observed in the manner of work, and the attendance at Lodge meetings.
The insufficiency of the apartments in which the meetings were held, induced the Brethren to raise a committee for the purpose of securing more suitable rooms. Mr. John Nesmith was then erecting the building on John Street; the two Lodges and the Chapter entered into an arrangement, by which the Hall and adjacent rooms were built and finished as they required. A joint agreement* was entered into by which three Trustees from each Lodge and from the Chapter were elected for three years,—one third of whom retired each year,— who should have charge of the Masonic apartments, the property and furniture of which were jointly owned by the three bodies.
In January, 1853, the Lodges and Chapter left Wentworth's Hall, which had been occupied by Pentucket Lodge nearly seven years, and removed to the Masonic Hall in Nesmith's Block.
At the Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge held June 8th, 1853, a charter was granted to Ancient York Lodge, dated June 9th, 1853. The Lodge was constituted July 7th, 1853, by Grand Master Randall and his Grand Officers, commencing at eleven o'clock, A. M., after which the Halls were solemnly dedicated. A most interesting address was delivered by the Grand Master. The Brethren dined with the Grand Officers at the Merrimack House.
Ancient York became celebrated as a working Lodge. October 27th, 1854, the Masters and Wardens of the several Lodges in the Third Masonic District, were invited to be present and witness the conferring of the Master's Degree. Grand Master Randall, Grand Secretary Moore, and other distinguished Brethren from Boston, with representatives from each Lodge in the district were in attendance. The labors of the Lodge, Brother S. K. Hutchinson, the W. Master, presiding, were successful and highly complimented. A Masonic Feast concluded the ceremonies.
In 1855, a number of the Brethren residing in Lowell, who had been advanced to the grade of Knights Templars, most of them in Boston Encampment, applied to the Grand Encampment of Massachusetts and Rhode Island for authority to form and open an encampment in Lowell. A dispensation, dated March 7th, 1855, was accordingly issued, and on the 23rd of the same March the first meeting was held. A charter was granted October 21st, 1855, under which Pilgrim Encampment was constituted, and its officers installed November 8th. 1855, by Sir Simon W. Robinson, Grand Master, Sir John McClellan, Grand Generalissimo, Sir Calvin Whiting, Grand Recorder, and other Officers of the Grand Encampment of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The charter of Pilgrim Commandery gives it rank and precedence as number eight in the jurisdiction. The first meeting under the charter was held October 10th, 1855. Sir Samuel K. Hutchinson was the first Commander. This distinguished body of Masonic Knighthood is composed of about one hundred and twenty seven gentlemen, embracing those of the highest respectability in this community. Pilgrim Commandery has not only been distinguished for the able and effective manner in which it has conferred the Orders of Knighthood, but it has received high commendation for its public displays. At the laying of the corner stone of the Masonic Temple in Boston, October 14th, 1864, it had the honor of doing escort duty to the Hon. Benjamin Brown French, Grand Master of Templars in the United States. In his official report to the Grand Encampment, at its session at Columbus, Ohio, in September 1865, the Grand Master paid a deserving compliment to Pilgrim Commandery. At the dedication of the Temple in Boston, June 24th, 1867, this Commandery was present with seventy-three swords,— Sir Samuel T. Lancaster, commanding,—bearing a beautiful banner, the gift of Sir Hocum Hosford, which attracted much attention ; and at the laying of the corner stone of the new Post Office in Boston, October 16th, 1871, this body of Templars with seventy-five Knights in line was present, E. Sir H. Hosford, Commander.
In December, 1856, Ahasuerus Council was resuscitated from the grave to which anti-Masonry had consigned it, a charter* having been granted December 9th, 1856 ; Companion Joseph Bedlow was its presiding officer. This Council is now in flourishing condition. All the bodies of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite have been established in the City of Lowell.
Lowell Lodge of Perfection, and Lowell Council of Princes of Jerusalem were organized by Dispensations granted July 1st, 1857, by Grand Commander, Edward A. Raymond, 33°, after whom they were originally named;-subsequently, the name of "Raymond" was changed to "Lowell."
Mount Calvary Chapter of Rose Croix, 18th Grade, was established by dispensation from Commander Raymond, dated April 30th, 1859 ; he also gave a dispensation for Massachusetts Consistory, 32nd Grade, July 10th, 1860. Charters for these several bodies were granted by the Supreme Council for the Northern Jurisdiction of the United States, May 23rd, 1862. The three Consistories in Massachusetts in 1871 were united, and Massachusetts Consistory, possessing the oldest charter, was retained and moved to Boston, where all its meetings are now held. The other bodies of this Rite still meet in this City.
From time to time, the high grades of the Scottish Rite have been conferred at the Masonic Hall in Lowell. The full and complete manner in which the ceremonies have been performed, and the elaborate mechanical preparations therefor, have gathered here prominent members of the Rite from different sections of New England. Many of these high grades were here conferred for the first time in this section of the country, and the great novelty attracted numerous attendants. That beautiful impressive degree, the Rose Croix, has never been given with more effectiveness than it has been repeatedly in the Masonic Hall which you have just vacated. There are many enthusiastic admirers of the Scottish Rite in the New England States, who will remember the Masonic Hall in Lowell for many years to come, as especially associated with this Rite, and as having been the scene of dramatic representations, ritualistic effect and touching pathetic address, such as they have never seen excelled. An emergent meeting of the Supreme Council, 33°, for the Northern Jurisdiction of the United States was held in the Masonic Hall, in this city, August 1st, 1862, for the purpose of conferring the high grade of 33° upon the Hon. Timothy Bigelow Lawrence, just previous to his sailing for Florence, Italy, where he held the position of Consul General of the United States.
The corner stone of St. John's (Episcopal) Church on Gorham Street was laid April 15th, 1861, by R. W. George Washington Warren, the Deputy Grand Master, assisted by a large number of Grand Officers. A procession was formed at ten o'clock A M., at the Masonic Hall, composed of the Grand Lodge, Pentucket and Ancient York Lodges, Mount Horeb Royal Arch Chapter, escorted by Pilgrim Commandery. Rev. Dr. Theodore Edson made the consecrating prayer, and Past Grand Master Rev. Dr. George M. Randall delivered an address. A dinner was provided at the Merrimack House.
Pentucket Lodge celebrated the semi-centenial of its charter in March, 1857, by a Lodge meeting in Masonic Hall and a supper at French's Hall, on Central Street. The large hall was filled, and the speeches made were interesting and instructive.
The largest public Masonic display in the City of Lowell took place June 17th, 1865. The City Government invited the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts to dedicate and consecrate the monument erected to the memory of Whitney and Ladd, the first who fell in the war of the rebellion. The Masonic procession was promptly formed in the morning, and consisted of the Grand Island, with Boston, Worcester County and Bethany Encampments as an escort, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, M. W. William Parkman, Grand Master, and the following Lodges: Corinthian, Concord; St. Paul, Groton; Wyoming, Melrose; Tuscan. Lawrence; Caleb Butler, Groton; John Hancock, Methuen; Pentucket, Lowell; Ancient York, Lowell. Pilgrim Encampment was detailed to act as guard of honor to the Grand Master. There were about one thousand Brethren in the procession. The day was intensely hot and the labors of the Brethren arduous.
The Masonic services were performed in the presence of His Excellency, the Governor, the Mayors of several cities, and a committee representing the City of Baltimore. Grand Master Parkman delivered a brief, but eloquent address. The oration was by Governor John A. Andrews. The celebration was of such recent occurrence that it is not necessary to weary your patience by any extended description.
The officers of the Grand Lodge and of the Grand Commandery dined together at the Merrimack House, after the fatiguing services of the march and consecration were over.
The success of the Society had been such in the City of Lowell, that in the early part of 1866 the propriety of establishing a third Lodge was discussed. A petition was accordingly prepared, to which Pentucket and Ancient York gave their approval. The name of Kilwinning was chosen as representing the earliest history of Scotch Masonry, as Ancient York did that of the English Craft, through both of which distinguished sources we, in Massachusetts, take pride in tracing our Masonic lineage. A dispensation was issued, dated April 23rd, 1866. While the work of this Lodge was intended to strictly adhere to the ritual of our Grand Lodge requirement, it was at the same time embellished with many additions, which made the lessons of the grades interesting and instructive. The work of the Lodge of Antiquity at London was imitated so far as was consistent with our duties and obligations to our Grand Lodge. In the second grade two halls were used with great effect, the middle chamber and its approaches being dressed and arranged in such a manner as fully to carry out what is usually described or represented on the canvas. In the other grades the dramatic effect produced was impressive. The Grand Master with his Grand Officers was present February 15th, 1867, to witness the entire work; and although in his official position he could not give it his approval, yet it made such a pleasing impression upon his mind, and brought out the beauties of our ritual so fully, that he declined to disapprove of it, and did not order its discontinuance.
The members of this Lodge were few in number, and the work required was laborious. A charter was granted March 13th, 1867, and Grand Master Dame, attended by a full corps of Grand Officers, constituted the Lodge and installed its officers March 26th, 1867. After the services were concluded a Table Lodge was opened in the Armory of the Commandery, and conducted in strict conformity with a ritual translated from the French, and in use more than a century previous.
The establishment of Kilwinning did not satisfy the increasing demands of the Craft in this city. A number of young, enterprising, enthusiastic Brethren, belonging to Pentucket and Ancient York, associated themselves together and petitioned for another Lodge. They selected the name of William North, who was familiarly known to his Lowell Brethren as "Father North," a veteran in the Institution who had identified himself with Freemasonry early in life, and followed its fortunes in sunshine and in storm with his characteristic fidelity. He had presided over Pentucket during seven of its most prosperous years. In the decline of life he retained the vivacity of youth and endeared himself to his younger Brethren by familiar yet dignified intercourse. He was a Christian man, a kind, genial brother, honored by his Brethren, and respected by all who knew him. A dispensation was granted to William North Lodge (thirty-two petitioners) March 26th, 1867, and March 11th, 1868, a charter* was issued. Grand Master Dame, with his Grand Officers, constituted the Lodge and installed its officers March 26th, 1868, since which time William North, although the youngest, has prospered equally with its older associates.
The last meeting held in Masonic Hall, on John Street, was January 31st, 1872, when it was used by Pilgrim Commandery, the Fraternity of Lowell having occupied it nineteen years. When it was opened, in January, 1853, there were but seventy-one Lodges in Massachusetts; now there are over two hundred.
The increase in the number of the Craft in Lowell has equalled the general prosperity throughout the Commonwealth. The population of Lowell is now rising 40,000. The number of Brethren affiliated with the Lodges on the first of September last, as appears by the official returns to Grand Lodge, were as follows: Pentucket, 265; Ancient York, 196; Kilwinning, 43; William North, 111; total, 615.
During these nineteen years two new Lodges have been chartered, Ahasuerus Council been revived, a Commandery instituted, and four bodies of the Scottish Rite established in this city. The influence of these organizations and of their members has not been confined to the limits of this municipality, but has extended to the Grand Bodies of which they are constituent parts, not only in the State, but in the Nation. Especially in the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, our venerable mother, has this influence been exerted and felt. Through all the embarrassments and trials through which, in late years, our Grand Lodge has been called upon to pass, it has always received the encouragement, support and sympathy of the Lodges of Lowell and their representatives. From time to time the highest honors have been freely bestowed upon, and most responsible offices of trust in the Grand Lodge confided to, the Brethren of this city. During the entire period of the occupation of the John Street Hall, the Lodges of Lowell were represented among the officers of the Grand Lodge, with the single exception of the year commencing December 27th, 1865, and the Brethren of this city have not been ambitious to have their names associated with the unfortunate doings of that administration.
Pleasant, agreeable, convenient, and associated with so many delightful reminiscences, as were the apartments from which you have now removed, yet they were not considered entirely appropriate. For several years the Brethren have been carefully looking for some place where they might find a home more suited to their growing necessities. Through the kindness and liberality of the W. Master of Kilwinning Lodge and E. Commander of Pilgrim Commandery, this elegant Temple has been erected and these apartments especially built for our use. Every convenience which necessity required, every adornment which a refined taste suggested, and every luxury which ease and comfort could command have been lavishly bestowed by the Architect who has now surrendered to the M. W. Grand Master the implements of his office and trust.
Into this elegant, cultivated home we have now come. Its halls have been solemnly dedicated in accordance .with the sublime ritual of our Ancient and Honorable Society. Over us hovers the Genius of Freemasonry invoked by mystic rites, animating our hearts, inspiring us with zeal and devotion, encouraging us, each and all, to faithful, renewed exertions. Here in these halls, in this new home, the work again commences. To retain the high position which our Institution has reached in this city will require constant care, unremitting labor, and unwearied exertion.
As you enter this luxurious Temple and enjoy the comforts which have been provided, reflect, at least for a moment, upon the founders of Masonry in this region, as they gathered on that bleak December day in 1807, in the cheerless hall of Phineas Whiting. They were brave men, accustomed to hardships and privations. They trod upon no carpet in their perambulations and processions, no gas light flooded that melancholy room with a brilliancy rivalling that of the meridian sun. The bare windows were without shades or draperies. An uncushioned seat ran around the room. The officers occupied ordinary chairs upon a common level. A small table stood before W. Master Coburn; a warm fire blazed upon the ample hearth, and this was the only hospitable token, save the good cheer which the bright fire heated as they passed from labor to refreshment. The accommodations were meagre, their properties few, but their hearts were warm, and beat with true fraternal feeling. They were fully imbued with the great principles of Freemasonry, and although few in number, they were closely allied, and stood .firm and united. They have long since departed this life. By slow degrees, the Institution which they founded here, has increased until it now occupies its present proud position. Difficulties, trials, persecutions and bitter hatred have, from time to time, beset it; but through the protecting care of Divine Providence, it has survived them all.
"This people is Thine, O Lord: in Thy promise they trust,
To guide them and show them the path."
The limits of an address upon an occasion like the present are entirely inadequate to give more than an historical sketch of the progress of the Institution of Freemasonry in Chelmsford and Lowell since its establishment here in 1807. An attempt has been made to describe the places where the Lodge has been held during the years of its existence, and to note some of the prominent incidents which have occurred.
In 1828, when Masons' Hall was opened, the Institution found a home of its own, which the members could control for the first time. The old custom of resorting to houses of entertainment as the only places where the Lodge could properly be held was then abandoned. That custom has not since returned. The effect of this change upon the Institution and upon the character of its members is apparent. The Lodges have been more respected by the community at large, and the members, as a class, have been selected from more elevated spheres of life. It can fairly be stated that the character of gentlemen enrolled as members of the Masonic Society in Lowell, will rival in this respect any other Society in the city.
The growth and prosperity of Freemasonry have been commensurate with the growth and prosperity of this city, which has sprung up "like the enchanted palaces of the Arabian tales," and have kept pace With its rapid advance. Brethren: Let us remember that whatever honor we have heretofore attained, whatever prestige we have gained' from the past, and however high and influential our Society has become, its present prosperity and future triumphs must depend upon our lives and our separate, individual exertions. Let us not live alone upon the hereditary glory of our Institution, but let us make proof of our own ministrations, striving to build up higher yet the walls and towers of our Temple.
- 06/09/1869 Faith, Charlestown
- 06/09/1869 Delta, Weymouth
- 12/09/1869 Bethany, West Amesbury
- 12/09/1869 Palestine, Everett
- 03/09/1870 Rabboni, South Boston
- 03/09/1870 Globe, Hinsdale
- 03/09/1870 Charity, North Cambridge
- 06/08/1870 Vernon, Belchertown
- 06/08/1870 Morning Sun, Conway
- 06/08/1870 Mount Holyoke, South Hadley
- 06/08/1870 Upton, Cheshire
- 09/14/1870 Puritan, Abington
- 12/14/1870 Howard, South Yarmouth
- 03/08/1871 Charles River, Medway
- 03/08/1871 Temple, East Boston
- 03/08/1871 Aconcagua, Valparaiso, Chile
- 06/14/1871 Ezekiel Bates, Attleboro
- 06/14/1871 Quinsigamond, Worcester
- 06/14/1871 Mariners', Cotuit
- 09/13/1871 Occidental, Stockbridge
- 09/13/1871 Belcher, Chicopee
- 09/13/1871 Beth-Horon, Brookline
- 09/13/1871 Mosaic, Danvers
- 09/13/1871 Newton, Wilbraham
- 09/13/1871 Phoenician, Lawrence
- 09/13/1871 Simon W. Robinson, Lexington
- 09/13/1871 Good Samaritan, Reading