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Senior Grand Warden, 1886





From Proceedings, Page 1913-77:

R.W. William Theophilus Rogers Marvin was born in Boston, Dec. 30, 1832, and died at his home in Brookline, Feb. 24, 1913. His father, Theophilus Rogers Marvin, occupied a high position in his business as a printer and publisher, and the son later became associated with him under the name of T. R. Marvin & Son, by which the firm has been known to the present day. The father had a deep interest in Williams College, and naturally the son gravitated to that institution after the earlier years of his education had been spent in the Adams School of Boston, and in the Public Latin School, from which at graduation he received the honor of being Franklin medalist. His faithfulness and success as a scholar were thus proven at an early age, as the distinction of the Franklin Medal was never given in those days except to those who had shown themselves in every way worthy. His college course was a repetition of the success already achieved. He was graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1854, possessing, beyond his record of scholarship, the personal regard of all who had been associated with him as classmates and as instructors, and this continued during his entire life. There has probably never been an alumnus of the college so well and so favorably known to the entire body of succeeding generations of professors, students and fellow-alumni, as was our Brother Marvin. He was made Master of Arts in course in 1857, and the crowning honor was bestowed upon him fifty-two years later, by the degree of L.H.D. or Doctor of Learning, a distinction unique in itself, and intended to testify to the rare qualities of literary ability which he had displayed.

For Brother Marvin was not content to be simply a master printer, however honorable that title might be, and it is a duty which has been assigned to your Committee to recount very imperfectly a few of the interests and activities of his life, which placed him among the most notable of our members. One of our great writers has said that a man's education begins with his grandfather, and Brother Marvin's ancestry was an honorable one. He was a descendant of Reinold Marvin, who came to Turner, Conn., in 1637, and, on his mother's side, of John Coggeshall, once president of the Colony of Rhode Island. This became an incentive to his studies in genealogy, and the "Marvin Genealogy," and the "Marvin English Ancestry," and a complete genealogy of the Marvin family in New England, are a tribute of loyalty to his family, while his general interest in the subject is indicated by his long membership in the New England Historic Genealogical Society, of which he was one of the Board of Counsellors for three years.

Closely allied with this was his membership and directorship in the Bunker Hill Memorial Association, and the Bostonian Society. He was versed in numismatics, the study of coins and medals, was an honorary member of the American Numismatic Society, the American Numismatic Association, corresponding member of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Philadelphia, and a foreign member of the Royal Numismatic Society of Belgium. He wrote and published the work entitled "Medals of the Masonic Fraternity," edited Bett's "Medals Illustrative of American Colonial History," and prepared the report upon the Arms of the Freemasons, which appears in our Proceedings for 1880. There was probably no one in New England of greater erudition in the science of heraldry.

These are only the surface indications of the direction and the ra:rge of his historical researches. He prepared the address at the Centennial of Columbian Lodge, besides numerous other historical and numismatic papers and tracts, and it was one of the regrets of his life that the Grand Lodge, after encouraging the preparation of a medal commemoratiVe of the one-hundred-fiftieth anniversary of its founding in 1733, did not find the way clear to carry his plan into execution.

It is difficult for us to realize the youthful activity of one whom we have seen among us bowed by the weight of many years. Brother Marvin was a member of the New England Guards, was quartermaster-sergeant on the staff of Colonel Burbank, commanding the First Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, and was sergeant in that asylum of retired military heroes, the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company.

It is more natural to think of his association with educational matters in the Town of Brookline, where he was for many years secretary of the School Committee and chairman of the High School Committee, and of his thirty years' membership in the Brookline Thursday Club, of which he was for two years the president, and of his services to the Protestant Episcopal Church as vestryman and warden of the Church of the Messiah, and member of the Convention of the Diocese of Massachusetts for many years. All these things he did and did well. While in college he had been a member of the Greek Letter Society of the Sigma Phi. Ten years after his graduation, he was interested in establishing at Williams a Chapter of the Phi Beta Kappa, and was one of its charter members, being entitled to become so by virtue of his high standing in scholarship.

His love for the college never ceased. With two exceptions only, he attended all the annual meetings of its alumni in the City of Boston, and was an equally regular attendant at every Commencement. As he loved, so was he beloved. At the last meeting of the Alumni Association of Boston, the regrets of the Association were unanimously voted to him at his inability to occupy his time-honored place at the banquet board,

Brother Marvin was initiated into Masonry Oct. 1, 1857, in Columbian Lodge. He received the Master Mason's Degree Jan. 19; 1858. After serving the Lodge as Senior Steward, Senior Deacon, Junior Warden and Senior Warden, he was its Master in 1871 and 1872, and immediately thereafter became District Deputy Grand Master of the First District, which then included all the Lodges meeting in the Temple, for the years 1873 and 1874. fn January, 1883, he took up the duties of Secretary, and continued in that office until his death. The estimate set upon the value of his services as Secretary is indicated by the purse of $1,000, raised by voluntary contribution of the members of Columbian Lodge, and presented to him in 1906. In December, 1885, he was elected Senior Grand Warden, serving for the year 1886. As long as health and the increasing burden of business care permitted, he was a regular attendant at our Communications. He received all the degrees of the York Rite in bodies meeting in the Masonic Temple, the Order of the Temple being conferred upon him in 1860 in St. Bernard Commandery.

He received the Thirty-second Degree of the Scottish Rite in Boston Consistory in 1863, but never held office in any Masonic Body except the Lodge and Grand Lodge, in which his interest centered, and in which, as has been shown, he labored long and faithfully.

Brother Marvin was twice married. His first wife was Annie M., daughter of George and Judith Howe of Roxbury. His second wife was Mary, daughter of Edward S. and Abby (Pope) Ritchie, who is still living. By each marriage he had three children. One of the earlier marriage, and all of the second, survive him.

In preparing this summary of his life, your Committee feel that its character and its usefulness have been shown very feebly. The ashes of one of the early martyrs in England were cast, into the River Avon, so that no memorial of him might exist. But

"The Avon to the Severn runs,
The Severn to the sea;
And Wyckliff's dust is spread abroad
Wide as the waters be.'

The influence of such a life as that of our Brother and friend has been diffusing itself in countless directions for many years, and cannot be measured. or recorded. We can only stand by the side of the river, gather up a few grains of the dust that escaped oblivion, and say, "This was our Brother." But we believe that the work he did on earth is still exerting its power, and that the busy brain and the soul attuned to harmony in fealty to God and love to man, are still under God's providence alive in his eternal Kingdom, and shall never, never die.

Respectfully submitted,
Leon M. Abbott,
Thomas W. Davis,
George J. Prescott,


From New England Craftsman, Vol. VIII, No. 5, February 1913, Page 167:

William T. R. Marvin, an old time printer and a well known Freemason of Boston, died February 24th at his residence in Brookline, at the age of 81 years. Brother Marvin was a graduate of the Boston Latin School in 1850 and of Williams College in 1854. He engaged in the printing business with his father and was given an interest in the firm in 1856 which then became known as T. R. Marvin & Son, a name that has been retained ever since.

Up to the time of his death Mr. Marvin was editor of the American Journal of Numismatics, which is published in New York three times yearly. He was also a member of the Boston Numismatic Society. For many years he was a member of the Printers' Board of Trade.

Mr. Marvin had lived in Brookline since 1872, and served on the Brookline School Committee from 1875 to 1897. He was one time secretary of the committee. He was prominent in Masonry, serving as senior warden of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in 1885. He had a membership in Columbian Lodge, and was its secretary for 30 years.

Williams College ever held a warm place in Mr. Marvin's heart. His father received a degree of AM from that institution and half a century later the degree of LHD was conferred on the son for his literary attainments and for his "absolute loyalty to the college." Since entering the college he had missed only two commencements.

Mr. Marvin had membership in various social and fraternal organizations in Boston and Brookline, but ill health obliged him to withdraw his interest from some of these. At one time or another he held membership in the Bostonian Society, the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company, Bunker Hill Monument Association and the Brookline Thursday Club.

For many years Mr. Marvin was a communicant at the Church of the Messiah on St. Stephen's St. He served as a vestryman at this church, and about a year ago retired as junior warden. He leaves a wife, two sons and two daughters.



From New England Freemason, Vol. II, No. 5, May 1875, Page 202:

It has been remarked that the various Cathedrals of the continental cities bear intrinsic evidence of their origin from a single master-mind, in the "unity in diversity" which characterizes them all. Historic evidence, no less than tradition, declares them to have been the work of the Travelling Freemasons of the middle ages, through whom the "royal art," with its mysteries and all its varied symbols, has been transmitted to our own times, and to the Brethren of our Lodges, wherever dispersed. Who it was that drew the plans of these magnificent edifices is not certainly known. Tradition assigns the honor to various architects; but the claim of each has been denied, and it is too late to hope for a decision that shall be final and indisputable.

The same spirit of devotion which lavished its wealth in building these glorious temples, kindled a flame in the hearts of those who worshipped in them; and inspired St. Hildebert to write his glowing hymn, and St. Bernard to pour out his soul in the triumphant strains describing "Jerusalem the golden," that anthem of the church militant which will be sung until

"The morning shall awaken,
The shadows pass away,
And each true-hearted servant
Shall shine as doth the day."

The architect, no less than the poet, the painter, or the priest, caught the enthusiasm of the age, and the achievements of his genius stand to-day in a strength and beauty that have never been surpassed, if indeed they have been equalled by any efforts of modern times. "The Italian basilica, an immense cube, with a triangular pediment, is fixed like a crystal, and if it is not finished it is unmeaning." The Gothic Cathedral, on the other hand, has in it, as has been truly said, "the forest's life and voice, and if a day should come when we could say, 'It is done,' why then we should seem to say, 'It is dead.' " The writer just quoted, gives us, in a recent number of Lippincott's Magazine, the following description of the vision which greeted him, on entering one of these brilliant Cathedrals: "The scene," he says, "was a rare one. I looked around me in the golden altar-lights; I thought I was in a forest,—a forest at sunset. The choir was almost filled with rising incense, touched with the yellow flare of the tapers; and it seemed, through the columns, like a vista into the clouds. The grand stems of the arcades were thickly crowded; only they fell into a natural order and alignment, like the trunks of pines; overhead they rolled to meet each other, breaking out everywhere into stiff, thickset needles and tufts of Gothic work. Vast patches and shields of prismatic hues lay rounded against their mighty cylinders. But this forest was not a solitude ; it was crowded with speechless figures, thick as thoughts. And it was not silent or simply whisper haunted, like the real woods. It was all inflated, and swelled, and dazzled, and broken with pomps of organ-music, that almost overcame the heart, and made the pillars seem to reel, and the painted windows to rock, in the Jove-like storm."

We leave to other hands the task of tracing out the intimate connection between the symbolic teachings of the Cathedral architecture, and the imposing ritual which enshrines itself amid such surroundings. No one who has ever given a thought to the subject can have failed to recognize the fact that the whole structure is full of symbolism, and every portion of it enforces its own peculiar lesson. Wherever we go, into whatever temple of this Gothic order we enter, the same spirit meets us on the threshold, lingers with us along the aisles, bends beside us at the chancel rail, and whispers ever to us the same mystic language, eloquent with meaning to the ear that will listen to it. When we see them all, from the ruined arches of Melrose and Kilwinning to the still unfinished towers of Cologne, suggesting the same teachings in a manner so peculiarly their own; not obtrusively — rather indeed concealing them from the careless eye, yet opening readily to our thoughtful study, when once we have learned how to interpret them ; when we realize the harmony which exists between them all, and the intrinsic evidence pervading them all, we can no longer resist the conviction that they had their origin in one master mind, inspiring his Brethren with the glow of his own enthusiasm, imprinting on their memories and pouring into their hearts his own immortal genius.

It requires no very vivid imagination to trace a close connection, also, between the magnificent and imposing ritual of the Cathedral service and the not less impressive and beautiful yet simple ritual of that Lodge which does its work in strict conformity to ancient usage, with those additions of musical harmony which so fittingly supplement the harmony of brotherly emulation. The majesty of the Cathedral has infused itself into those peculiar ceremonies which have at length become inseparably connected with the edifice; while the simpler rites and modest symbolism of our Order have crystallized themselves, as it were, and remain essentially unchanged. The traditions of the Institution, the language employed, with its quaint titles, its obsolete words, and its antique setting, are sufficient evidence of this, were any needed.

Our altar stands before the neophyte, unsurrounded by chancel-rail, and the humblest Brother may kneel at its steps, without priestly absolution, and receive the pledge of fraternal love. Upon it lies the Book of Holy Scripture, the great light in Freemasonry. Not a word of human gloss or comment defaces it, or explains away the significance of its teachings, or in anyway influences whoever desires to study its pages. The emblems that rest upon it have each their lesson, which he who beholds them cannot fail to understand. The square admonishes him, "Let virtue and integrity guide you," and the compasses respond, "Remember the great circle of humanity, composed of individuals like yourself, not one of whom is nearer or more remote from the Great Centre of all being than are you." These emblems are no less constantly or conspicuously displayed npon our altars than those hallowed and far more sacred symbols that are elevated before adoring eyes by the consecrated hands of a priesthood; concerning them no controversy is likely to arise—the real presence of the thing signified must be in the heart of him who seeks to read their lesson, or their teaching is profitless and vain. The two lighted tapers upon the Cathedral altar symbolized the double nature of the Saviour, as both human and divine—the light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world—or the two Sacraments of the Christian Church, Baptism and the Eucharist; and though their flames have been multiplied till their brilliancy dazzles the eye, the significance of the emblem remains unchanged. Around our altar stand its burning tapers, no less eloquent in their teaching of that order and harmony which should preside over and characterize the assembly of Brethren.

The clustering pillars bearing up the wide-spreading arches, and stretching out in seemingly endless vistas, yet ever bending beneath their burdens, remind us of the Man of sorrows, bowed by the agony of his ineffable sufferings; and, while they Beem to sympathize with his passion, they whisper words of comfort from above to every sorrowing human heart. Our pillars are but three, and yet they point as plainly to the Grand Master of all, whose wisdom is infinite, whose strength is omnipotent, and whose beauty shines in every star. From censers swung by chanting priests, the thick and fragrant cloud arises, symbolizing on earth that heavenly incense offering which the Apocalypse declares typified the prayers of the saints. Our "pot of incense " is the emblem of a pure heart, no less an acceptable sacrifice, no less fragrant or grateful to Him before whom "all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid '.' by clouded canopy or fast tiled door.

The "fretted vault" and chancel arch of the Cathedral are often studded with glittering stars, emblematic, like the covering of our Lodges, of "the starry-decked heavens " where all good Masons hope at last to arrive.

The gorgeous hues and sunset dyes which fall from rose-window or lancet upon the Cathedral's kneeling worshipper, remind him of the saintly lives and exalted virtues, the heroic deeds and glorious deaths of the goodly fellowship of the Church triumphant, whose toils are ended, and whose crowns are won. We, too, have bright and shining examples of fidelity under persecution, of heroism under trials, and of truth and faithfulness glowing with immortal radiance, and even though suffering the bitterest pangs and reproaches, unyielding to the end.

And so we might go on, pointing out in many and even more striking ways how the inspiration which built these venerable piles has infused itself into their worshippers, and elaborated those solemn and impressive services which find their congenial home within Cathedral

walls. Is it too much to claim that this is the unconscious outgrowth of a secret principle whose interpretation by the profane is more difficult than any hieroglyphics of Egyptian priests, or Cabbala of Jewish rabbis, but to the skilful craftsman is an open book? The Scripture lesson, the prayer, the solemn vow, the light out of darkness, the charge, the anthems of praise — it were well nigh an endless task to follow out the parallel.

We are taught that to the Greeks is due all that "is great, judicious and distinct in architecture." Is it not time that the testimony of truth be incorporated into our trestle-boards, and that our candidates henceforth be taught that the Gothic architecture, not less ornamental than the Composite order, not less beautiful than the Corinthian, not less graceful than the Ionic, possessing no less strength than the Doric or the sturdy old Tuscan—combining all their charms while avoiding their defects; adapting itself to every requirement of the architect; now springing spirit-like into the air to form a flying buttress or a cresting pinnacle, now bearing up with massive masonry the weight of frowning battlements and tower, of lofty spire or arching dome, and now stretching its seemingly endless colonnades like a labyrinth before us,—that the Gothic system, having a character so completely its own, was the invention of our ancient Brethren, the Travelling Freemasons of the middle ages ?

"They dreamed not of a perishable home
Who thus could build."

Distinguished Brothers