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Provincial Grand Master for North America, March 6, 1743/4 to June 25, 1754.


1743 1744 1745 1746 1747 1748 1749 1750 1751 1752 1753 1754


From Proceedings, Page 1916-211:

Thomas Oxnard was born about 1703 in the Bishopric of Durham in Eng{and. The date of his immigration to this country has not been ascertained. On January 21, 1735/6, he was made a Mason in the First Lodge in Boston of which he was chosen Master at the Feast of Saint John the Evangelist, 1736. He was one of the founders of the Masters Lodge on January 2, 1738/9, and frequently attended its meetings. At the Feast of Saint John the Evangelist in 1739 he was appointed Deputy Grand Master. He succeeded Tomlinson as Grand Master, his Commission being dated September 23, 1743, and being received in Boston on March 6, 1743/4. A copy of it is spread in full upon the early Proceedings, and may be found in (Page) I-7 (see also (Page) I-387). He was specifically appointed by his original warrant to be Provincial Grand Master of North America, with full power to constitute lodges in North America. In the exercise of that power he constituted Lodges not only in and about Boston, but also in Newfoundland, Rhode Island, Maryland, Connecticut, and elsewhere. We know that he was in England in 1752 (Page I-19) and he was probably absent for some time because he did not attend the Communications of the Grand Lodge from October 11, 1751 until October 13, 1752. During his absence, however, he was evidently in communication with the Grand Lodge for in January, 1752, Brother McDaniel was Deputy Grand Master, while in June of the same year we find that Alexander Lord Colvill had been deputized as Deputy Grand Master.

A contemporaneous estimate of him as an experienced merchant, an upright dealer, an affectionate husband, a tender parent, a sincere friend, and a kind master, is recorded on the records of the Grand Lodge under date of July 1, 1754, together with an account of the Masonic ceremonies at his funeral (Page I-33). see below

Oxnard, and his wife's father, John Osborn, were partners in business. Mr. Osborn had many public offices, and doubtless Oxnard was a chief factor in the management of the affairs at the store and on the wharf. His mansion was at the northerly corner of Tremont and Winter streets, having been bought in 1742 of Adam Winthrop, Esq. The property on the northeast measured two hundred and thirteen feet, on the southeast one hundred and forty-two feet, on Winter street two hundred and thirteen and a half feet, and on Common street, the present Tremont street, one hundred and fifty-two feet. This property is diagonally across Tremont street from Park Street Church. Full statements concerning his family may be found in the references given.

His widow, Madam Sarah Oxnard, married, second, April 10, 1756, the Honorable Samuel Watts, Esq. She was evidently a shrewd business woman, for it would appear from the settlement of the Oxnard Estate that she charged her second husband, Judge Watts, for four years' use of her house in Boston from 1756 to 1760, about which time the family removed- to Chelsea where Judge Watts died in 1770. Her portrait was painted by John Singleton Copley and is still in existence. Unfortunately no portrait of Thomas Oxnard is known. The Boston Post Boy for Monday, July 1, 1754, contains an account of his death and funeral identical with that recorded in the records of the Grand Lodge above referred to. The Boston Gazette of Tuesday, July 2, 1754, has the following intelligence:

"Last Tuesday died here Thomas Oxnard, Esq., a noted merchant of this town, in the fifty-first year of his age, and was decently interred on Friday last."

There is, also a note in the Gentlemen's Magazine of London for 1754, page 388, reading:

"At Boston in New England, Thomas Oxnard, Esq., an eminent merchant, Grand Master of the Society of Freemasons in North America."

1821 Mass. 642.
6 N. E. Historical and Geni Reg. 375.
26 N. E. Ilistorical and Gen. Reg. 3.
Willis' History of Portland.


This account of Grand Master Oxnard was furnished to the Samuel Crocker Lawrence Library in 1981. It includes a letter from Nancy Oxnard Longley, to Roberta Hankamer, then librarian of the Grand Lodge Library, which is appended at the end of the document.

Oxnard Family Cup

Oxnard Family Heraldic Device


This story starts with an account of a silver cup and what became of it. The cup bears the initials T.O. and the date 1746 and was originally the possession of Thomas, born in England in 1703, who came to Boston and lived the rest of his life there. He died in 1754. It is now on display at the Masonic Museum in Boston, corner of Tremont and Boylston Streets. It was deposited there by Charles Oxnard months before his death. It had been handed down through the generations, going generally to a son in each generation.

My grandfather, Horace Chapin, was 74 years old on August 4, 1914 and on October 13, 1914 he was seated at his desk at 10 Crescent Street, Norway, Maine, writing a letter to his grandson to accompany his transference of the cup to Charles, his grandson. Why Horace did not present it to his son, Frank, instead of to his grandson was never explained. All of a sudden he didn't feel well and went to the kitchen to tell his wife and died almost immediately.

Of course, Charles was by then 25 and doubtless grandfather reasoned that he was of an age to understand its significance and treasure it. This proved true. From 1916 until 1975 Charles' wife, Lillian, polished and took care of it and it occupied a prominent place in their house.

The news of grandfather's death was telephoned to our home, 151 Mystic Street, West Medford, Mass. When the telephone rang I was in the parlor having my weekly piano lesson; Charles, then unmarried, was working in Boston, and our parents had, one or two days previously, left for a few days' vacation in the White New Hampshire, going by train.

Presumably, I excused myself to answer the telephone. Thus I was the one to receive the news. I didn't know how to go back to my teacher and explain the situation, and to be truthful, my one thought was to call Charles at work (I had the firm's number) and inform him; this I did. It must have taken quite a few minutes and in the meantime, my teacher waited. When I reappeared, she made me realize my discourtesy but I kept our situation to myself, thinking it best not to intrude our sorrow upon her. Doubtless my mother explained it all to her at the first opportunity.

Charles was able to locate our parents at the Mt. Madison House in Gorham, N. H., only fifty miles from Norway. They, of course, took the first train to Norway and Charles also went to Norway, and when he returned, he had the cup in his possession. So it stayed with us until he was married and built a home of his own in 1916.

Now, how did it finally come to be the possession of the Masonic Museum? Just when we learned that our great great great grandfather, Thomas, was an important man in Boston and Master of the Masonic Lodge of all North America, I don't know, but our great aunt, Mary Elizabeth (Oxnard) Staples of 20 Thomas Street, Portland, Maine, was the Keeper of our history and she saw to it that we were properly taught to be proud of our rather unusual name and respect it. "There were never any black sheep in the Oxnard family," according to Aunt Mary, grandfather's only sister.

Charles considered it a great honor to be the possessor of the cup. He learned of another cup owned by a Mrs. Fox in Bangor, Maine and it is supposed that there were still other cups. From Aunt Mary we learned that a descendant living in Freeport by the name of Fox (through marriage) possessed a tankard with a coat of arms of the family engraved on it. In fact, she attempted to gain control of it but without success; she did, however, get permission to send an artist to Freeport and have a crayon sketch made of the coat of arms; this is in my possession and hangs in the front hall of our home, 11 Maple Street, Norway. Charles used to have it but one day some years ago , as I was leaving his home and chanced to glance at it hanging above the radiator in his little hall, I blurted out, "I ought to have that", and he took it right down and handed it to me.

The years passed and the disposition of the cup weighed on his mind. Ordinarily, he would pass it on to Frank, but Frank had no son, so where would it go, what would ever become of it? Finally, the idea grew and grew upon him, knowing of the family's Masonic history and having served in Masonic roles himself (his father also a Mason), that the Museum in Boston would be the proper place for it. He talked it over with his son, Frank, being unwilling to dispose of it without Frank's consent, and Frank agreed. When he mentioned it to me, I thoroughly approved.

The next thing was to make arrangements for its presentation and acceptance. To accomplish this he sought an interview with the Most Worshipful Stanley F. Maxwell, Grand Master of Masons in Massachusetts, and an appointment was made to meet him on June 10, 1975 at the Museum of our National Heritage in Lexington, to relate the history of the cup and state his wishes to give it to the Lodge for display in the Masonic Temple, corner of Tremont and Boylston Streets, Boston. Mr. Maxwell then and there invited Charles to attend a luncheon meeting the next day, June 11, to bring the cup and make his presentation, when the annual meeting of the Grand Lodge was to be held.

Charles was in his 86th year and it must have cost him considerable effort to make the trip to Boston with another Mason but it was one of his greatest moments and the presentation took place in the presence of about 600 Masons and he was much appreciated. He came back to West Med-ford on the subway after some excitement, according to his daughter, Anne Clark, who has furnished me with some of these details. When he left the Temple on Tremont Street, the fire engines and police cars were all around the subway entrance, as there had been a fire down there.

Accompanying this paper are a copy of his presentation speech, a copy of a picture of the cup, and his history of the cup.


The first provincial Grand Lodge of Freemasons in America was established in Boston on July 30, 1733. It is recorded (and I am quoting from a Masonic record, a copy of which is herewith filed) as follows:

"OXNARD, THOMAS, A prominent Freemason, Provincial Grand Master for North America, March 6, 1744 to June 25, 1754. Born 1703 in the Bishopric of Durham, England, and died in Boston on June 25, 1754, Brother Oxnard became a member of the First Lodge, Boston, on January 1736, of which Lodge he> was elected Master in 1736. He was one of the foremost founders of the Masters Lodge which came into existence January 2, 1739, Brother Oxnard was appointed Deputy Grand Master in 1739, succeeding Tomlinson as Grand Master. His commission, dated September 23, 1743, was received in Boston March 6, 1744. His original Warrant specifically appoints Thomas Oxnard as Provincial Grand Master of North America and gives him full power to constitute Lodges in North America. Brother Oxnard was a most enthusiastic and energetic member of the Fraternity and constituted Masonic Lodges in and around Boston, Newfoundland, Rhode Island, Maryland, Connecticut, and elsewhere". An additional record describes a meeting presided over by Thomas Oxnard.

Also filed herewith are two sheets, only, in the handwriting of his great grand daughter, Mary Elizabeth (Oxnard) Staples; although not signed, I know the handwriting very well, as she was my great aunt Mary, who was my benefactor more than once. One of them is headed Thomas Oxnard8 and says he . . . "appointed Benj. Franklin Provincial Grand Master of Penn. with authority to appoint the other Grand officers to hold a Grand Lodge . . ." I would suppose she would have left much more information which would have been invaluable to us and furnished the answers to many of our questions, her father having lived to age 92 when he died in 1887.

This Thomas Oxnard was the progenitor of all the Oxnards in the United States as far as I know. He was married to Sarah Osborne in 1737 by Rev. Samuel Sewall, D.D. and resided on Tremont Street, lot extending from Winter Street to next parallel to the north, "house and land fronting the Common". A second paper left by Aunt Mary says he was an importing merchant.10 His estate was valued at 1200 pounds and he was buried under old Trinity Church with a Masonic funeral. (N.E. Historical and Genealogical Register, Vol. 1872, p.4.) Marion Brooks, assistant to the archivist at Trinity Church in Copley Square, Boston, writes that old Trinity was on Summer Street and Bishop's Alley, now Hawley Street and that there is a plaque on Filene's store at the rear corner marking the spot. His children were:

  • Thomas (1740-1799) m. Martha Preble - 1772
  • Edward (1746-1803) m. Mary Fox - 1774
  • Mary (1742-1812) m. Edward Watts - 1765

We have in our file, most of which was collected by Charles L. Oxnard, a copy of P. C., The Weekly Magazine of Ventura County (California), dated Sunday, August 21, 1966. The Special feature of this issue was THE OXNARDS, The Family That Created A City. The paper was sent to Charles by Benjamin A. Oxnard, a descendant of Thomas II, the retired senior vice-chairman of the Great Western Sugar Company, living at that time in Denver, Colorado. In 1978 he had moved to Atlanta, Georgia. This article recounts town Oxnard. Calif, got its name when in 1898. It had been the intention of the founder to call it Sakkar, a Greek word for sugar. But when the senate in Sacramento, capital of California, was ready to act upon it, the founder could not make the senate member understand over the early-type telephone, so he gave up and said, "Just call it Oxnard".

Much of my account of Thomas II's family is taken from this paper.


Thomas II was the eldest of Thomas I's children, and was born in Boston in 1740. He and his brother, Edward, six years younger, both went to Portland, then Falmouth, some time before 1770. He became a merchant and ship owner and in 1770 was deputy collector of customs. A short time before the Revolution, he married Martha Preble, a daughter of Brigadier Preble. They had 12 children, 5 daughters and 7 sons. Their first two daughters were named Mary and Mehitable and neither survived many years but later, two more daughters were likewise nam and this second Mehitable married her cousin William Oxnard, son of Edward; one other daughter, Martha, also married her cousin Edward, son of Edward.

Three of their sons fought in the war of 1812, two of them losing their lives in the privateer Dash. Two other sons became ship-masters.

Thomas remained loyal of the Revolution and was proscribed by the act of 1778. After the British burned Falmouth, he fled to Castine, then in possession of the British troops and sent for his wife. She was allowed to go to him "with her two servant maids, and such part of her household goods as the selectmen of Falmouth should admit." He returned to Falmouth after the war and was thrown into jail until a law was passed giving pardon to Loyalists. His brother, Edward, who also fled Portland, going to England, returned and they

{missing a page}


11 Maple St.
Norway, Maine
May 31, 1981

Miss Roberta Hankamer, Librarian
Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts
186 Tremont Street
Boston, Mass. 02111

Dear Miss Hankamer:

It was a pleasure, also, to receive your nice letter of May 22 in regard to my "Oxnard Family" and to know that you think it worth having a duplicate to place in your biography section. Perhaps I mentioned that it was written for the benefit of my family and that of my brother, Charles, as I figured I was probably the only one in the family who could pull all the material together.

His daughters asked me to write about life at 151 Mystic Street in the years before they were born, 1918 and 1924, respectively, when the life in West Medford was so very different from what they experienced. West Medford was then quite rural. From that I went on to the family history and learned much I had never known and made many interesting acquaintances. I would add that the cover design is a photograph of the crayon drawing of what we have always considered to be our "coat of arms", taken from the tankard which my great aunt Mary Elizabeth (Oxnard) Staples so desired to possess and which I mention on page 2. My nephew, Frank, Charles' son, actually had a quite different version handed to him by someone in Freeport, Maine, but I never saw it.

I shall plan to send a copy to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, now that you mention it. Charles had asked for 3 copies and he may have had it in mind to find out whether they would be interested to have it. (Charles,my son, that is; we tend to use and reuse names in families, although he was not really named for my brother!)

I am really surprised that you ever gave me and my project a second thought, almost flattered! About Bryant & Stratton, the old school of my days must have been quite different from the one when you served as Dean. My days were the era of Llewelyn O. White when school was held on the second floor at the corner of Boylston and Arlington Streets. Mr. White was a neighbor of ours in West Medford and I had to pass the 100 word a minute shorthand test given by him as the final test before going on to learn something about dictaphones, etc. and receiving my diploma. I seemed possessed to learn to type and now I am dependant on my correction cartridge on this portable Smith-Corona!

I am pleased to enclose another copy of the family story. My next copy goes to Rev. Carl Seaburg of the Universalist-Unitarian Association in Boston who, with his brother, has published Medford on the Mystic. We are swapping our works and eventually he will place mine in the Medford Historical Society. Strangely enough, many years ago he arrived, after a youth spent growing up in Medford, here in Norway. He eventually returned to Medford,became engaged in writing Medford's story, using many pictures. I was astounded to see a copy of a photograph labelled the "Oxnard Oxen" so 1 simply had to Inform him that those oxen never lived in Medford but in Norway, which absolutely delighted him. 1 could tell' him how that photograph came to have a place in the Medford Historical Society and that I have an original. This last about the oxen is an after thought but it occurred to me that you might enjoy this bit. With best regards, I am

Sincerely yours,
Nancy Oxnard Longley


From TROWEL, Winter 1994, Page 8:

Thomas Oxnard was born in the bishopric of Durham. England, about 1703. The date of his coming to America is not known, but he became a successful merchant in partnership with his father-in-law, John Osborne, who held many public offices while Oxnard was largely responsible for business in the store and on the wharf.

After his arrival in America. Oxnard became a member of First Lodge, now St. John's, on January 21, 1735. At the Feast of St. John the Evangelist in 1736. he was chosen Master of First Lodge, was continued as Master on June 24. 1737, and continued for another six months to December 27.

The Right Worshipful Lodge of Masters was founded on January 2. 1738, Oxnard being one of the founders, with Henry Price serving as first Master. On December 27, 1739, Oxnard was appointed Deputy Grand Master of Grand Lodge. When Price resigned after years as Grand Master, Robert Tomlinson was appointed and installed as the second Grand Master. After Tomlinson died in office, authority reverted to Price until a successor was chosen.

On March 6, 1744, Oxnard received a deputation from the Grand Master of England which had been signed in London on the previous September 23rd. This document appointed him Provincial Grand Master of North America, with the power to appoint his Deputy Grand Master and Grand Wardens in the name of the Grand Lodge of England, to constitute lodges in North America and to hold quarterly communications, one of them on the Feast of St. John the Evangelist.

On the same day that he received the deputation, Oxnard, as third Grand Master, appointed R. W. Hugh McDaniel, Deputy Grand Master, R. W. Thomas Kilby, Senior Grand Warden, and Mr. John Box Junior Grand Warden. All the appointees were members of First Lodge and the Master's Lodge.

An undated notation between December 24, 1746, and December 9, 1747, in the Grand Proceedings recognizes that in response to a request from brothers at an unspecified place in Newfoundland, a Lodge was formed there and a Master appointed. The Grand Proceedings note, also, for December 27, 1749. that Oxnard as Grand Master granted the petition of brothers in Newport R. I. for the constitution of a Lodge, and appointed R. W. Caleb Phillips as first Master. Phillips was removed later as Master for conduct "unbecoming a Mason." and was replaced by R. W. Robert Jenkins.

At a quarterly meeting on January 11, 1749, the Grand Treasurer was authorized to pay for damages to neighbors' windows "by the firing of our chambers last St. John's Day." No further details are given.

Lodges continued to be constituted up and down the Atlantic coast. On February 15, 1749. Grand Lodge Officers constituted a Lodge to be held at the Royal Exchange Tavern, Boston, with R. W. Henry Price, first Master, and on March 7, another to be held at the White Horse Tavern. Boston, with R. W. Peter Pelham as first Master. On August 12, 1750. Oxnard granted constitutions for Lodges in Annapolis MD and New Haven CT, the latter with R.W. David Wooster as Master.

The Festival of St. John the Baptist for 1751, was celebrated elegantly and harmoniously in Cambridge at the house of a Mr. Richardson, since there was illness in the Price household. The meeting of Grand Lodge was held there as well.

With Oxnard in England, the Deputy Grand Master called a meeting on January 20. 1752, to consider a successor. A proposal to have R. W. Henry Price resume his office was defeated, perhaps as a vote of confidence for Oxnard. On October 13, 1752, Oxnard, having returned, presented the Deputy Grand Master's jewel to R. W. McDaniel, the replacement for R. W. Lord Colvill, who had left for England (TROWEL, Winter. 1992). Oxnard was responsible, also, for the constituting of a Lodge in New London CT. It was established on January 12. 1753. with R. W. Andrew MacKenzie as first Master.

A vote on January 11, 1754, at a quarterly meeting, prescribing that Masters of local Lodges be at least 30 years old, was replaced a year later by a vote leaving it to the discretion of the local Lodges. On February 4, 1754, in response to a request from Icabod Camp and others in Middletown CT, Oxnard constituteda Lodge there with R. W. Jehosaphat Starr as Master.

St. John the Baptist Day for 1754. being on a Sunday. Grand Master Oxnard requested the meeting be held at McGraton's in Roxbury on Tuesday, June 26. The Deputy Grand Master held the Grand Lodge meeting because of the death of Oxnard about 11 o'clock that morning.

The third Provincial Grand Master was buried on Friday, June 29, 1754, having served 11 years. A great procession of relatives, friends. Grand Lodge Officers, Masters and Brethren of Lodges in Boston walked to the gravesite. Later, they returned to Oxnard's mansion, which was located on the northerly corner of Winter and Common (now Tremont) Streets. Although he was prominent in business and in Masonry, there is no known portrait of Thomas Oxnard now in existence.


From Proceedings, July 1, 1754, Page I-33.

"On Tuesday last departed this Life, after a lingering Sickness, in the Fifty First year of his age, The Right Worshipfull Thomas Oxnard Esq* Grand Master of the Ancient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons in North America. A Gentleman whose Loss is not only deplored by the Fraternity over which for Eleven Years he Presided, but by all those who had enjoyed the Pleasure of his acquaintance. He was an experienced Merchant, an upright dealer, an affectionate Husband, a tender Parent, a Sincere Friend, a kind Master. He was free from Bigotry and Enthusiasm, and his Religion, on the duties of which he constantly attended, was truly Catholick. The News of his approaching death was received by him with Composure and Resignation, he Set his house in order, and in Expectation of a better Life, he bore the last Agonies of this with a most Christian Fortitude. Reader wouldst thou shine in these amiable Virtues, Imitate Him. —

"His Corps[e] was attended to the Grave last Friday by a Numerous Train of Relations, of Free and Accepted Masons, Friends and Acquaintance, The Free and Accepted Masons dressed in black, and Cloathed with white Aprons and Gloves walked before in a Procession of two, with the Grand Masters Jewell, usually worn by him, pendant from the Ribbon on a tassel'd black Velvet Cushion carried next to the Corps[e], Immediately before the Cushion walked the Deputy Grand Master with the Grand Wardens; the Past Grand Officers, the other officers of the Grand Lodge, the Masters, Wardens and Officers of the other Lodges in Town in their order, all the Masters and Wardens with their Jewells pendant upon black Ribbon, after the Interment the Fraternity walked before the Relaitions and returned with them to the Mansion House of the deceased, where they took their Leave, The whole attendance was conducted thro' a vast Number of Spectators, with great order and Decency."

Grand Masters