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Deputy Grand Master, 1895



From Proceedings, Page 1911-123ff:

"Early on Sunday morning, June 18, 1911, from his country home in Weston, Samuel Lothrop Thorndike passed to his eternal life. On the preceding Wednesday morning he attended the regular meeting of the Masonic Education and Charity Trust, of which he had long been a member, and met a number of his associates in Freemasonry who were assembling for the Regular Communication of the Grand Lodge that afternoon. He returned to his home feeling not quite so well as usual; the next day pneumonia developed, and three days later came the Master's summons. It will always be a pleasant memory to his Masonic Brethren that with his many interests and duties Brother Thorndike gave to Freemasonry his last earthly service.

"Samuel Lothrop Thorndike was born in Beverly, Mass., Dec. 28, 1829, the son of Albert and Joanna Batchelder (Lovett) Thorndike, and seventh in descent from John Thorndike, who emigrated from Lincolnshire, England, in 1633, and was one of the twelve associates of John Winthrop, Jr., who commenced the first permanent settlement at Ipswich. In 1636 John Thorndike settled in that part df Salem which is now Beverly; he subsequently revisited England in 1668, where he died, and his body was buried in Westminster Abbey. Paul Thorndike, son of the immigrant, was a member of Capt. Thomas Lothrop's company known as The Flower of Essex, most of whom were slain in the battle of Bloody Brook in 1675; he was lieutenant of the Beverly Foot Company in 1677, and captain in 1689; in 1681 he was a deputy to the General Court. Paul's son, Lieut. John Thorndike, was also a deputy from Beverly in 1723. Brother Thorndike's great grandfather, Nicholas Thorndike, responded to the Lexington Alarm, serving as a private in the company of his cousin, Capt. Larkin Thorndike. Before marching, services were held in the First Parish Church, and thereafter the Beverly company joined their regiment in Salem, under the command of Col. Timothy Pickering, who, being cautious, refused to march until more definite information was received, and as a result the command arrived too late for effective service in preventing the British from reaching Boston. Nicholas Thorndike served also as a member of the Committee of Safety and of the Committee of Correspondence. Brother Thorndike's grandfather, Nicholas Thorndike served the Colonies as a seaman on the Ship Resource in 1780, and later on the Jersey Prison Ship. In the War of l8l2 he eommanded a volunteer company of artillery, and he was a deputy to the General Court in the years 1814-17.

"Other ancestors of Brother Thorndike were Roger Conant, who came in the Ann, last of the Forefather Ships, in 1623, and was governor of the colony at Cape Ann in 1625-26, of the colony at Salem in 1627-29, and was deputy from Salem to the first General Court in 1634; John Woodbury, one of the settlers of Cape Ann in 1625, and deputy to the General Court in 1635, 1638 and 1639; Robert Hale, who came in the fleet with Winthrop in 1630, one of the original members, and a deacon of the first church in Salem, and one of the founders of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company; the Reverend William Walton, who took his degrees at Emanuel College, Cambridge, in 1621 and 1625, and was the first minister of the First Church, Marblehead, in 1638, serving this church until his death in 1668; Lieut. Francis Peabody of Topsfield, 1614-1697; Peter Woolfe, lieutenant of Beverly Train Band in 1646; Humphrey Woodbury, who served under Captain Lothrop at the capture of Port Royal in 1654; Capt. John Dodge, who served in a troop of horse in the Narragansett War, and later was a deputy from Beverly to the General Court; Capt. William Dodge, who served with bravery in the Indian Wars, and was a deputy to the General Court in 1690; Peter Woodbury, lieutenant of the Beverly Troop of Horse in 1689, and deputy to the legislature of the people when Andros was overthrown in 1689; Capt. William Raymond, who commanded the Beverly Troop in the Narragansett War and took part in the Canadian Expedition in 1690; Josiah Batchelder, of Beverly, ensign in the expedition against Louisburg in 1744, and a member of the Committee of Correspondence, Inspection and Safety; and Josiah, his son, a member of the same Committee, and of the first Provincial Congress which met at Lexington in 1775; Caleb Dodge, of North Beverly, who commanded a company of Minutemen in 1775, responded to the Lexington Alarm, and by taking the old road through Bedford and running most of the way reached North Cambridge in time to harass tbe British on their retreat to Boston - this when he was sixty-one years old; John Lovett, 3d, who was actively engaged in privateering throughout the Revolution, and also served on the Committee of Correspondence; Joseph Rea, captain of militia, who mounted his horse at the Lexington Alarm and spread the news to Beverly Farms, and who, in 1777, commanded a company of Lynn and Beverly men in the battles at Stillwater and Saratoga; Samuel Shattuck, of Salem, a Quaker, who was principally instrumental in obtaining, in 1661, the legislation which terminated the extraordinary persecutions of this sect; Joseph Hertick, of Salem, who served in the Narragansett War in 1676, and was acting constable of Salem in 1692; "for a while he was under the influence of the witchcraft delusion, but his strong and enlightened mind soon led him out of it;" he and a number of other ancestors of Brother Thorndike "signed the Rebecca Nourse petition, and were leaders in the party thrt rose against the fanaticism, and vindicated the character of its victims;" Peter Woodbury, who in 1692 kept the lanterns out all night to guide those accused of witchcraft to his house, and held his horses saddled to carry them speedily over the boundary into New Hampshire and safety; Susannah Rootes, who in 1682 was accused of witchcraft, arrested and imprisoned in Ipswich jail, condemned to death, and narrowly escaped with her life. It was from such an ancestry that Brother Thorndike detivetl those qualities of mind and heart by which he will long be remembered.

"Brother Thorndike, like all boys in his time, attended the public schools, and later the Beverly Academy. He fitted for college in the Boston Latin School, and entered Harvard College in 1848. In college he earned membership in the Phi Beta Kappa, and he was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi. He was president of the Hasty Pudding Club, and of the Institute of 1770; and he was a member and deputy marshal of the Porcellian Club. He received his first degree as bachelor of arts in 1852; he then entered the Harvard Law School and received the degrees of A.M. and LL.B. in 1854. After leaving the law school he continued his studies in the office of Sidney Bartlett and was admitted to the Suffolk Bar in 1855. For a time he was in the office of Rufus Choate and later a partner with his classmate, E. Ellerton Pratt, under the firm name of Thorndike and Pratt. In 1859 he was appointed an Assistant Commissioner of Insolvency. In 1861 he entered the office of William H. Gardiner with whom, and with his son, he had an office for the care of trust property continuing from the death of the former in 1882 to the death of the son in 1908, since which time he alone maintained the office. In 1867 he was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, aud was appointed a register in bankruptcy under the law of that date; he held office until the law was repealed, and even in 1911 cases were still pending before him.

"Although Brother Thorndike practised law at the Boston Bar and at the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States and continued his insolvency and bankruptcy practice from the time he joined the Gardiner office, more and more of his time was devoted to the care of trust property and to the business of corporations. At different times he was a director iu a number of corporations, among them the Blair roads and land companies in lowa before their absorption by the Northwestern; for a time he was president of the Portland, Saco and Portsmouth Railroad Company; for three years he was a director and comptroller of the Atchison and Santa Fe Railroad with T. Jefferson Coolidge. He was a director of the Lowell and of the Chicopee Manufacturing Companies; of the Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation, of which he was president at the time of his death. For many years he was a trustee of the Suffolk Savings Bank; he was also a trustee of the Perkins Institute for the Blind, and a member of the finance cornmittee for a number of Tears.

All his life Brother Thorndike was much interested in music, and was a constant attendant at concerts of orchestral, choral and chamber music. He was gifted with a baritone voice, of not great strength or compass, but of very pleasing quality, which he used with great musical perception, especially in the singing of ballads and in the style of song that used to be sung when he was in his prime. He never had any regular musical education or training; what he knew he largely taught himself. He sang in the choirs of the First Parish and of St Peter's in Beverly: in Christ Church, Cambridge, and for a time in the choir of Trinity Church, Boston, under the leadership of J. C. D. Parker. He was a leader for a number of years of the Beverly Musical Institute, was Choir Master at Christ Church in Cambridge, and had charge of the Christmas music of St. Peter's Church in Beverly. In 1872, when the Harvard Musical Association was conducting symphony concerts, he served as treasurer, and in 1894 he became president and served for a number of years. He was one of the founders, and the first president of the Cecilia; he was vice president of the Handel and Haydn Society at the time when the Society brought Christine Nilsson to Boston, and later he was a trustee of the permanent fund of the society. He also served as vice-president of the Choral Art Club; as a director of the original Boston Music Hall Corporation, and as a trustee and vice-president of the New England Conservatory of Music.

"Brother Thorndike's social and patriotic instincts, and his interest in literary and historical avocations, brought him into many interesting affiliations. He enlisted in the First Corps of Cadets in July, 1863. He was treasurer of the Harvard Alumni Association for twenty-eight years from 1876, and at the time of his death he was secretary of his college class. He was a charter member of the Union Club, of the Saint Botolph Club and of the Tavern Club; he was also a member of the Somerset Club and of several dining clubs, such as the Cambridge Dining Club, the Saturday Lunch Club, his class dining club, and for many years he was a member of the Election Committee of the Union Club, serving with Colonel Lee and others at a time when the meetings were significant for other reasons than for the business transacted for the Club. He was a member of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, of the Massachusetts Historical Society, of the Examiner Club, of the New England Historic-Genealogical Society, of the Bunker Hill Monument Association, serving as a member of the Standing Committee; he was president of the Old Cambridge Shakespeare Association, and at one time of the Beverly Shakespeare Club. Brother Thorndike traveled in Europe at three different times, and in connection with his railroad interests he made a number of journeys in this country.

"Right Worshipful Brother Thorndike was raised to the sublime degree in Liberty Lodge, Beverly, in 1858. Four years later he became Master of the Lodge, and at the time of his death he was its Senior Past Master. He was Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in 1895. The following year he was elected a trustee of the Masonic Education and Charity Trust, and since the year 1900 he served as clerk of the Trust. He received the capitular degrees in Washington Chapter, Salem, in 1859; he demitted in 1873 to become a charter member of Amity Chapter, Beverly, in which he held office as Scribe, and continued bis membership until his death. The orders of knighthood were conferred upon him in Saint Omer Commandery in 1867; in 1892 he became a charter member of Saint George Commandery in Beverly; in 1894 he affiliated with Saint Bernard Commandery of Boston. He received the degrees of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in 1862 and 1863, becoming a member of Boston Consistory June 19, 1863. He was created a Sovereign Grand Inspector General, Thirty-third Degree, and Honorary Member of the Supreme Council Sept. 21, 1897.

"On Nov. 2, 1859, in Cambridge, Brother Thorndike married Anna Lamb Wells, daughter of Daniel Wells who was for ten years Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas of which the present Superior Court is the successor. He is survived by his widow, two sons, a daughter, and eight grandchildren. The daughter married Charles H. Fiske, Jr. of Boston and Weston. The sons are Albert Thorndike, of the firm of Jackson and Curtis, Boston, and Sturgis H. Thorndike. Albert Thorndike. a member and Past Senior Warden of the Lodge of St. Andrew, married Mary, daughter of Right Worshipful Benjamin Apthorp Gould, LL.D., Past Master of the Lodge of the Southern Cross, in Cordoba, Argentine Republic, where he labored for many years in tbe great astronomical work which made him famous, and later Senior Warden of the Lodge of St. Andrew, and Deputy Grand Master of this Grand Lodge.

"Brother Thorndike's funeral service was held on Tuesday, June 20, at Christ Church, Cambridge, of which he had long been a communicant during his residence in that city. The service was read by the Reverend William B. King, a former rector of Christ Church, and was attended by members of the Class of 1852, of the Porcellian Club, of the Union Club; of Liberty Lodge, and by representatives of the Boston Bar. The mortal body was taken to Beverly for burial.

Thus has passed from our present association a Brother who in a long, useful and honorable life endeared himself to all who knew him. Brother Thorndike lived a very broad life and touched many interests outside of his profession. One of his friends very justly said of him: "All who knew him will remember him as one of that fine group of gentlemen who lived in busy times and yet kept the standards of a day that found time for all the nobler things in life." He was a man of singularly quiet and dignified demeanor; but he always manifested his readiness to assist others and advance their interests. To those who knew him well he was a lovable man, and his Masonic brethren of his native place reverenced him. His enthusiasm was manifested in his love of music. May we not think of him as radiantly happy with the celestial choir, and hope for his quiet and benignant greeting as we pass on to the eternal life?

Charles M. Green,
George H. Rhodes,
John H. Harris,


From Proceedings of the Massachusetts Council of Deliberation AASR NMJ, 1911, Page 43:

A descendant of John Thorndike, who came from Lincolnshire, England, to this country in 1633, and settled in that part of Salem which is now Beverly in 1636, was born at Beverly, December 28, 1829, and died at Weston, June 18, 1911. His ancestors were prominent in Colonial and especially in Revolutionary history, including in their number at least one of the coast defense committee, one member of the first Provincial Congress, and a commander of a regiment in the Continental Army.

He was educated at the Beverly Academy, the Boston Latin School and Harvard College, graduating from the latter in 1852, and continued his training for the bar in the Harvard Law School, from which he received the degree of Bachelor of Laws in 1854. In college lie became a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, was President of the Hasty Pudding Club and the Institute of 1770, and a wearer of the star and crescent of the Alpha Delta Phi. On leaving the law school he was in the offices of Sidney Bartlett, and of Rufus Choate, leaders of the bar of those days, being admitted to practice in the Suffolk courts in 1855. Twelve years later he was admitted to the bar of the United States Supreme Court, having previously engaged in practice on his own account, with William H. Gardner, who died in 1882, and since that year maintaining his office alone. His business for most of that time was a trust and probate lawyer and in the management of estates and corporations.

He was for a time Director of different railroad corporations, and of Lowell and Chicopee manufacturing companies. He was a Trustee of the Perkins Institution for the Blind. He held membership in the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, in the Bunker Hill Monument Association and the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Socially he was connected with the Union, the St. Botolph and Tavern Clubs of Boston.

Having rare and discriminating taste in musical matters, he was, while in college, President of the Harvard Musical Association and of the Cecilia, and later an officer of the Handel and Haydn Society, the Choral Art Society and of the New England Conservatory of Music. This catalog of the different organizations with which he was connected is not exhaustive, but serves to show the various directions in which his interest and energy displayed themselves during the years of his more active life, and the many-sidedness of the man whom few of us could know and appreciate as he appeared among us so quietly and unobtrusively in his later years.He was married November 2, 1859, to Anna Lamb Wells, daughter of Daniel Wells, who was for ten years Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, of which the present Superior Court is the successor. She with two sons and a daughter survives him.

His Masonic record is a notable one. He received Masonic light in Liberty Lodge, Beverly, in 1858, and became Master of that Lodge in 1862. At the time of his death he was its Senior Past Master. He was Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in 1895. He was elected a Trustee of the Masonic Education and Charity Trust in 1896, and served until his death, having been Clerk of the Trust from the year 1900.

He received the Capitular degrees in Washington Chapter of Salem in 1859. He dimitted in 1873 to become a charter member of Amity Chapter of Danvers, in which he held office as Scribe, and continued his membership until his death.

The Orders of Knighthood were conferred upon him by St. Omer Commandery in 1867. In 1892, he was a charter member of St. George Commandery at Beverly. In 1894, he became a member of St. Bernard Commandery.

He received the degrees of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite in 1862 and 1863, becoming a member of Boston Consistory June 19,1863. He was created a Sovereign Grand Inspector General, 33°, and Honorary Member of the Supreme Council, September 21, 1897.

On the morning of Wednesday, June 14, Brother Thorndike attended the Regular meeting of the Masonic Education and Charity Trust, giving his usual quiet but cheery greeting to his associates and to the friends who were beginning to gather for the meeting of the Grand Lodge in the afternoon of that day. At that meeting he was not present. Returning from Boston to his home at Weston, he became ill, pneumonia developed, and on Sunday morning he passed away. His funeral was held at Christ Church, Cambridge, of which he had been a communicant during his residence for a number of years in that city, and his remains were con�veyed to Beverly for interment.

While we join with the poet in saying that all lives are long which answer life’s great end, the life of our Illustrious Brother Thorndike was doubly significant and exemplary in its length of years, and in the fulness of those years with the discharge of professional duties to the very last, and in the readiness he always manifested to assist others and advance their interests. His Masonic Brethren of his native town reverenced him. In the formation of new bodies of the York Rite, he became a counsellor and a worker with them, and, in an unpretentious manner, furthered every good cause in which the way lay open for him to take the part of a helper. In brief, the motto of his life seems to have been, “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

Thomas W. Davis, 33°
Dana J. Flanders, 33°
George W. Chester, 33°


From Vol. 45, October 1911 - June 1912, Pages 4 and 5, by Charles Francis Adams, President:

"Samuel Lothrop Thorndike, elected a Resident Member at the December meeting of 1901, died at his summer home in Weston on June 18, ten days after the meeting referred to, at which he was present.

"Although elected only ten years ago, at the time of his death Mr. Thorndike stood fiftieth on the roll of membership. Born at Beverly in December, 1829, at the time of his election he was approaching the close of his seventy-second year. Naturally, therefore, becoming a member so late in life, his activities in connection with the Society were limited. Nevertheless, made a member of the Council at the annual meeting of 1903, he served upon it two years. Subsequently a member of the House Committee, he acted as such for a further term of two years. In 1906 he was appointed auditor of the Treasurer's accounts. During the first four years of his membership, and up to December, 1905, he was present at nearly every one of our meetings; but of the remaining fifty-four meetings held before his death he attended only nine. A steadily increasing impairment of hearing in a measure precluded him. In 1902 he paid a tribute to his classmate and life-long friend, James B. Thayer, when the death of the latter was announced; and he was appointed to prepare memoirs both of him and of the late John Fiske. Neither of these has been filed, nor, so far as is known, was the preparation of either begun. They have now been elsewhere assigned.

"A graduate of the Harvard class of 1852, Mr. Thorndike had outlived his immediate associates in the Society, and there is no one here who can speak of him with close personal knowledge. I shall, therefore, not call for the tribute, or characterization, usual on these occasions. Graduated in the very year in which the class of which I was a member entered Harvard, I had no acquaintance whatever, even by reputation, with Mr. Thorndike as a student. I recall him, however, distinctly during the years which succeeded graduation. In accordance with a practice then already not unusual, Mr. Thorndike emphasized graduation by foreign travel. In fact he did not even wait for his commencement-day, but in the January preceding started in company with his intimate college friend and classmate, W. Sturgis Hooper, on a sailing-ship round-the-world voyage. Returning from this experience, one hardly practicable now, he entered the Harvard Law School, and settled down to a study of the profession. Finally, he was a student in the office of Sidney Bartlett. Subsequently devoting himself to his calling, although his and my relations were always friendly and such as are apt to be maintained between men who were, practically, in college at the same period, — that is, in our case, during the administration of President Walker, — I came but little in contact with him; less, indeed, than I would have wished.

"Mr. Thorndike was a man of a very distinct personality, and an engaging personality. He was essentially what Dr. Johnson denned as a "clubable" man, — that is, his welldeveloped natural social instincts were allowed free play. Entertaining and companionable, he had engaging manners, with a keen sense of humor. So, naturally, during college life, he was a deputy marshal of the Porcellian Club. Though a member of the bar, he was not what is known as an active practitioner or jury advocate. In fact, like so many others who take it up, though the law was his calling, to the law Mr. Thorndike had no particular call. He was far from being what is commonly known as a "hustler for business." Refined by nature, his aptitude was for music; and there is little in common between the jury-box and the orchestra. I am told that Mr. Thorndike did, in his earlier professional days, appear as of counsel in cases before the full bench, both in Massachusetts and at Washington; but I doubt if he ever presented a cause to a jury, nor could I possibly imagine him browbeating a recalcitrant witness or bullying an opposing counsel of aggressive manners. He was a man of too fine a fibre for that sort of work; he could not have so coarsened his being. While, therefore, the law was his profession and a source of income to him, music was his calling and delight. Doubtless he felt far more at home and in his element while listening to an orchestra than when arguing in a court, even one of probate. The result naturally to be looked for under such conditions in due time followed. He devoted himself more and more to the promotion of music; and, incidentally as it were, was occupied with the management of properties. Trusteeship became the substance of his office life. On the other hand, deeply interested in societies like the Handel and Haydn, which by a natural educational process led up to the system of Symphony Concerts so identified with the later Boston musical development, he was, I am told, a frequent contributor to Dwight's Journal of Music, standing very close to its founder and editor. Never concerning himself to any marked degree in either politics or productive literature, he yet had a natural taste for historical topics local in character; and, though this trait never assumed any considerable or even definite shape, it was to it his election to our Society was due. An attractive personality, instinctively a gentleman in feeling as well as in bearing, Mr. Thorndike will be borne in fresh recollection by the few yet left who were fortunate enough to be his associates through a long and useful, though in no way eventful, life. A memoir of him, prepared by a member of his family, is herewith submitted and will find its regular place in our Proceedings."

Distinguished Brothers