ADDRESS OF THE GRAND MASTER
William Sewall Gardner, at Grand Lodge, December 27, 1871.
BRETHREN OF THE GRAND LODGE : — Townsend is a small town in Massachusetts, of about two thousand inhabitants, incorporated June 29th, 1732, and situated upon the border of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, in the nortwestern part of Middlesex County, forty-six miles from Boston, north latitude 42° 40', longitude west from Greenwich 71° 40' 20". It was originally called Townshend. The old burying-place is about a mile from the centre of the town, on high land, surrounded by a forest of evergreens, and on the northerly side of the county road.
Passing directly from the highway through the gate of the ancient cemetery, north-westerly about eight rods, one is attracted by a slate stone a yard square, with a rounded top, fractured almost through its entire length, standing at the head of a grave. Upon this stone, in clearly defined letters, which have withstood the frosts of more than ninety winters, is the following epitaph : —
IN MEMORY OF
HENRY PRICE, ESQ.
Was Born in London about the year of our Lord 1697 he Removed to
Boston about the year 1723 Recd a Deputation Appointing him Grand
Master of Masons in New England & in the year 1733 Was appointed a
Cornet in the Governors Troop of Guards With the Rank of Major by
his Diligence & industry in Business he Acquired the means of a Comfortable
Living with Which he removed to Townsend in the Latter Part of
his Life he quitted Mortality the 20th of May A. D. 1780 Leaving a
Widow & tw° Young Daughters With a Numerous Company of Friends
and Acquaintance to mourn his Departure Who have that Ground of hope
Concerning his Present Lot Which Results from his undissembled regard
to his Maker & extensive Benevolence to his Fellow Creatures Manifested
in life by a behaviour Consistent With his Character as a Mason and his
Nature as a Man " An honest Man the Noblest Work of God."
Beneath the sculptured stone, in this lonely and quiet rural retreat, have peacefully reposed, for almost a century, the ashes of Henry Price, our First Grand Master. Quite as neglected as his grave have been his biography and history. Until within a few years past, both have been entirely forgotten. Brother John T. Heard, when Grand Master, rescued some few facts concerning him from oblivion, and obtained his portrait, taken in 1737, when he was forty years of age, which before it was consumed, adorned the walls of our Grand Lodge room. Brother Charles W. Moore wrote a fragmentary sketch of his life and published it with our Constitutions. Brother G. Washington Warren also gave a brief account of him to Henry Price Lodge; but what these zealous Brethren gleaned concerning him was obtained from scanty and unsatisfactory" sources.
For the purpose of preparing this paper, most careful search in every accessible department has been made to obtain information, however slight, in relation to the life of Henry Price. The archives of the State Department at the State House, of the town of Boston at the City Hall, the records of courts and registries of deeds in Suffolk and Middlesex, have each been most carefully scrutinized. Newspapers of the years in which he lived, and public documents in possession of the Historical Society and Athenaeum in Boston, and of the Antiquarian Society at Worcester, as well as church and town records have been thoroughly examined. No department, place of ancient deposit, or accessible means of information have been neglected.
It appears by the epitaph upon his tombstone that Henry Price was born about 1697, and that he came to New England about 1723. These statements must be taken as true. Inscriptions on tombstones and other funeral monuments are admitted as original evidence in legal tribunals. If they have been publicly exhibited and were well known to the family, the publicity of them supplies the defect of proof, and they are admitted on the ground of tacit and common assent. It is presumed that the relatives of the family would not permit an inscription without foundation to remain.
In 1723 he was about twenty-six years of age. No trace of him can be found in Boston until 1732. In December of that year he brought suit against a debtor in the Inferior Court of Common Pleas in Boston, and he is described in the writ as Henry Price of Boston, etc., u Taylor. In those early days the calling technically known as the "mystery or degree" was required to be accurately described, and a failure in this respect would abate the writ. In 1739 Price and his partner brought suit against one William Wesson, describing him as "Housewright." Wesson came into court by his Attorney, Joseph St. Lawrence, Esq., and pleaded in abatement that he was a "joyner" and not a "housewright," and the record reads that the court, "after mature deliberation thereon, are of opinion there is matter sufficient couched in the said plea to abate this writ." A new action was afterwards brought, describing Wesson as a joyner, "in which the plaintiffs prevailed.
From the proceedings in the suit commenced in 1732, it is apparent that Price must have been established in his business as early as 1730 or 1731. From the manner in which his business was afterwards conducted, it is extremely doubtful if he was engaged in business for himself prior to 1729. In 1733 Governor Jonathan Belcher appointed him Cornet in his troop of Guards, with the rank of Major, and from that time lie was known as Major Price. As late as 1792 his executors so refer to him. In the inventory of his effects, filed in the Probate Court within a month after his decease, appear a red jacket, red breeches, housing and holsters, a pair of horse pistols, spurs, sword and belt, and silver-hilted sword. These undoubtedly composed his Cornet's uniform and accoutrements, and were carefully preserved by him during life. In former times a Cornet was an officer of cavalry, corresponding to the ensign in a regiment of infantry, and bore the standard or colors of a troop. The office was that of standard-bearer in the Governor's troop, and the rank assigned to it was that of Major. Especial privileges were accorded by statute to the gentlemen of the Governor's troop, and to the officers additional favors were granted by legislative enactments. They were exempted by law from certain civil and military duties. In those days any military commission gave prominence and high respectability to the individual honored with it; but to hold an official position in the select body-guard of His Majesty's Captain General and Governor of New England was considered an especial favor, and of itself conferred honorable social distinction. Major Price undoubtedly so looked upon it himself, and his family after his decease considered the appointment to be such an honor as should properly be recorded in his epitaph. There we find it, and so far as we can now learn, it is the only record.
Price carried on his business for some time at the sign of the Brazen Head, on Cornhill, very nearly where is now No. 96 Washington street, about half way between Water street and State street, and opposite Williams Court. The great fire of 1760 began in this building, then occupied by Mrs. Mary Jackson, and William her son, as a dwelling-house and store, by which it was entirely consumed.
In 1736 he formed a partnership with one Francis Beteilhe, who was a shopkeeper, while Price carried on the tailoring department. This copartnership continued until 1740. About 1739 it appears that Price gave up the tailoring, for after this he and his partner are described as shopkeepers. In 1741 he assumed sole control of the business, and carried it on for some time at the corner of Pond and Newbury streets, now Bedford and Washington streets. This was then in the south part of Boston. Price possessed a large lot of land on the southerly side of what is now Bedford street, upon which were a brick store and a dwelling-house, while part of the premises was improved as a garden.
In 1740 he purchased, for £1,000, a lot of land with buildings thereon, situated "at the lower end of the Broad Street, wherein the Exchange or Town House stands, leading down to the Governor's Dock." This estate was on King Street, now State Street, and was on the northerly side. It was next to the brick house occupied for some time by Dr. Benjamin Coleman, of Brattle Street Church. At the time he purchased, there was a wooden building upon it. In the spring of 1744 he commenced a brick building, which was completed during the summer, and before November; and upon his application, the selectmen gave him permission to erect a sign-post in King Street, opposite his store. He removed here with his family, occupying the upper part as a dwelling-house, and the lower part as a store.
This was the usual manner of occupying buildings used for stores in those days. The firm business not only included the mechanical labor of tailoring, but also the usual business of what is now known as a merchant tailor, and, in addition, the sale of cloths, silks, ribbons and similar articles of merchandise. This business, as a merchant or shopkeeper, he carried on alone from 1741 to 1750, when he retired. It does not appear that after this he was engaged in any occupation, and from the great amount of real estate which he possessed it is improbable that he was.
In 1737, Major Price became engaged to Miss Mary Townsend, then seventeen years of age, a daughter of Samuel Townsend, of Boston, who died in 1720. She was possessed of some property, and in May, 1737, her Uncle James Townsend, of Boston, was appointed her guardian. July 25, 1737, Henry Price and Mary Townsend were duly published, when her Uncle James forbade the banns. It is impossible now to give the reasons for this opposition by Mr. Townsend. It had probably existed during the courtship, and the guardianship was part and parcel of it. It may be that religious differences suggested it, as Price was an Episcopalian, and Townsend a rigid Puritan; or it is possible that social relations caused it. Townsend was a gentleman of wealth, and although a wine cooper by calling, was really an importer and seller of wines and brandy. His son, William Blair Townsend, was then in Harvard College, and the names of students in that institution until 1773 were arranged in the catalogue according to the respectability and social positions of their families. Young Townsend, who was graduated in 1741, stood number eleven in a class of twenty-five.
Price was a tailor by practice and trade, ambitious and aspiring undoubtedly; but nevertheless a mechanic. However, the opposition did not prevent the marriage, which took place in the fall of 1737, and in October, 1738, a daughter, Mary, was born to them. The Uncle James died in April, 1738, leaving an estate appraised at £21,000. By his will he left bequests to each of the orthodox clergymen in Boston, and £500 to Harvard College for the "Holliston Professor of Divinity" but his niece Mary Price was not remembered.
In 1742, Major Price became possessed of the Hartshorn Farm, so called in Townsend, and of certain other real estate in that town, by an execution levied thereon as the property of one Thomas Phillips of Boston, who was indebted to him, and this paved the way to his finally making Townsend his home. In 1740, Price and his wife Mary sold to William Blair Townsend and Rebecca Townsend, minor children of James, Mary's interest in a lot of land on Savage's Court, in Boston. In 1746, he purchased a piece of land, "with the edifices and buildings thereon situated, at a place called Menotomy Fields, in Cambridge; and for a time he made it his summer residence. It was situated in that part of Cambridge which afterwards became West Cambridge, and is now the town of Arlington, upon the great highway to Lexington and Concord, over which, years afterwards, the British troops marched on their way to burn the provincial stores in those towns.
At a Grand Lodge held April 12, 1751, Brother Price made an offer of the use of his house at Menotomy, for the celebration of St. John the Baptist's day; but on the 24th of June, the day was celebrated elsewhere, "Brother Price's house at Menotomy being encumbered by sickness." It is probable that the sickness referred to was that of his wife Mary; and that about that time she died. April 29, 1752, Henry Price and Mary Tilden, both of Boston, were published; and on the 25th of May following, they were married by Reverend William Hooper, of Trinity Church. Major Price, as has been stated, was in religion an adherent of the Church of England, and attended Trinity Church, where he owned half a pew, which he held at the time of his decease. In 1750, he became a member of the "Boston Episcopal Charitable Society," instituted in 1724, — next to the Scots Charitable Society, organized in 1657, the oldest charitable foundation in New England. During his life, the Episcopal clergymen of Boston and Newburyport frequently officiated and preached sermons before the Grand Lodge upon the St. John's days, and Trinity Church and Christ Church were each used for this purpose. The influence of Price, because of his connection with the Church of England, undoubtedly led to this early association with the rectors of the ancient church. It is well known that the general feeling in Boston was not friendly to Episcopacy, or to those who prominently advocated the religion of the prayer-book.
Upon retiring from his business of shop-keeper and merchant, in 1750 and 1751, Price is described for several years, in writs, deeds and instruments, as "gentleman." From 1746 to 1755 he continued to be a resident of Boston, passing the summer season at his country-seat at Cambridge. After his marriage, in 1752, he either greatly enlarged or altogether rebuilt his house there. It was a large house, so much so as to be generally called the "great house." After having made his estate at Cambridge every way desirable, increased its extent, so that his lands stretched out down to the pond, extending upon both sides of the highway, with barns, stables and everything necessary to the comfortable enjoyment of a gentleman and his family, in 1755, he took up his residence at Cambridge, with his wife and daughter Mary, then about seventeen years of age. The future was bright and promising. For the times, he had more than an abundance. He was rich in this world's possessions, fifty-eight years of age, just verging to the decline of life, and he looked forward to years of enjoyment, culminating in a peaceful serene old age, in the bosom of his family, upon his pleasant estate. But he lived here for five years only. In 1759 or 1760 his wife died, and on the 8th of October, 1760, his only daughter, Mary, followed her, leaving his house desolate and forsaken. Mary's funeral was from the house of her cousin, William Blair Townsend, in Boston, whither her remains were conveyed. These afflictions weighed heavily upon him. He immediately left Cambridge, and took up his residence again in Boston. The house at Menotomy, with all its heart-rending associations, he could not retain, and just thirty-two days after his daughter's decease he conveyed it away.
He remained in Boston a year or two, when he removed to Townsend, where he continued to reside during the remainder of his life. Soon after moving to Townsend, he represented that town in the Provincial Legislature in 1764 and 1765. The small towns at that time, and, indeed, until recently, were not represented every year, and between 1745 and 1764 Townsend was without a representative. The provincial records show that he was appointed upon several committees, and that he was usually referred to as Major Price.
"September ye 17, 1771, were lawfully married, Henry Price Esq., Avith Lydia Randall, both of Townshend, by the Reverend Samuel Dix of Townshend." Mrs. Randall was a widow with a minor son, John Abbott. She appears to have been a young woman at this time, and " indented marriage articles of agreement "were made and entered into between them September 6, 1771. Two children were born to him by this third marriage, Mary and Rebecca.
His estate at Townsend was large, embracing several farms, with buildings, mills, mill privileges, mechanical shops, woodlots, and hundreds of acres. Here he lived quietly, and enjoyed his increasing years. Age prevented his taking any part in the contest with Great Britain, which broke out into revolution in 1775. He was of course interested in its progress. In a conveyance, made May 14, 1779, he adds after the date and year, the following: "and third year of the independence of the United States of America." This is the only evidence which has come to hand, showing his sentiments upon the conflict then impending. His active sympathies were undoubtedly with the struggling colonies, as at that time no man would have acknowledged independence, if his feelings had been friendly to the Crown.
About the 14th of May, 1780, while using an axe in spliting rails, it glanced and struck him in the abdomen, inflicting a severe and fatal wound. The most serious consequences were apprehended. His last will and testament were prepared immediately, and executed on the 15th. This document gives such a clear idea of his business character, that a copy is annexed hereto. It was made when Major Price was upwards of eighty years of age, while suffering from pain, in view of an early dissolution, and it exhibits the clearness of his intellect and the admirable business traits which had enabled him to amass a large fortune. It especially shows what his religious character was; the possession of three pews in meeting-houses not of his faith and of his church evince the strong sympathy he had for religious instruction, and the aid he afforded for its support.
The Henry Turner mentioned in the will was married March 9th, 1780, to Abigail Scott, of Townsend; but what relation, if any, he bore to Price, does not appear. Major Price languished until the 20th of May, when he died at his homestead at Townsend, aged eighty-three years. He left an estate of great value, but which was afterwards much reduced by lawsuits, insecurity of his titles to real estate, and by the general depression resulting from the war of the Revolution upon all property in the new States. His daughter Mary, in April, 1787, married William Wallis, of Pepperell; and descendants of that union still reside there. April 21, 1788, Rebecca was married to George Farrar, of Townsend; the widow, Mrs. Lydia Price, married for her third husband, Lieutenant Levi Whitney, of Shrewsbury, Nov. 13th, 1780; Whitney removed to Townsend, and lived for many years upon the Price Homestead. He was son of Daniel Whitney, and was born at Shrewsbury, December 5th, 1739.
During his life Major Price had a black servant called Scipio, who was probably a slave. After the decease of Price he became lame and infirm from old age, but he was supported by the estate for many years, having every comfort suitable for his age, condition, and infirmities.
Major Price was possessed of real estate in Boston, Hull, Cambridge, Woburn, Concord, Sherburne and Townsend in Massachusetts, in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, — embracing acres of great extent and value. Among the estates held by him in Boston, not already referred to, was a large one on Summer Street, and another on Bishop's Alley, now Hawley Street. It is evident that the carefully guarded language of the inscription, that "by his diligence and industry in business he acquired the means of a comfortable living," was in every respect true.
The portrait, to which allusion has been made, represented him in the full vigor of manhood, dressed in the peculiar style of gentlemen of about the year 1740. He wore a wig and queue, white neck-cloth, and single-breasted coat cut flowing away. His face betokened mildness and gentleness. The eyes were large and full, set well apart, soft and expressive. The forehead was broad and expansive. The whole face was lighted up with animation, and conveyed the idea of a gentleman. One would call him benevolent and affectionate, and would pronounce him to be an honest man. This last characteristic shines out in every lineament of the face. Whatever else that countenance was as depicted in the portrait, it was undoubtedly truthful and honest. The man in that picture never could have committed a felonious act, never could have lived a life of deception. If the original were charged with simplicity, one would more readily find it than knavery. The straightforward look, and open expression of those eyes negative any charge of deceit, chicanery, double-dealing, hypocrisy and wickedness against Henry Price. The honest soul looks out of them, and they beam upon the beholder with the characteristic honesty of the man. As one looks upon the portrait, upon that gentle countenance, those eyes, welling up with truth, the wonder ceases, if it ever existed, that his family and friends, who knew him best, inscribed upon his tombstone as the last and best tribute to his memory, these expressive words, "AN HONEST MAN, THE NOBLEST WORK OP GOD."
Monday, July 30th, 1733 (old style), Henry Price convened the following Brethren, viz.: — ANDREW BELCHER, ESQ., JOHN MCNEALL, THOMAS KENNELLY, PETER HALE, JOHN QUANE, MATTHEW YOUNG, HENRY HOPE, JOHN WADDELL, FREDERICK HAMILTON, EDWARD ELLIS, at the house of Edward Lutwytch, "at ye sign of the Bunch of Grapes in King street." This celebrated inn was situated on what is now the corner of State and Kilby streets, and on the westerly side of the last-named street. The Brethren, having assembled in some secure apartment in the tavern, were called to order, and a Commission or Deputation from Viscount Montague, Grand Master of England, was produced, appointing Henry Price Provincial Grand Master of New England, and authorizing him to form a Provincial Grand Lodge, appoint his Deputy Grand Master and Grand Wardens, and to constitute Lodges. By virtue of this Deputation, Provincial Grand Master Price formed and opened a Provincial Grand Lodge, appointed R.W. Br. Andrew Belcher, Esq., his Deputy Grand Master, and W. Brs. Thomas Kennelly and John Quane, Grand Wardens pro tempore. The Provincial Grand Lodge having been regularly organized and opened, the Grand Master ordered his commission to be read.
The first business transacted, as appears from a careful examination of the records, archives, and proceedings, was the making of James Gordon, William Gordon, John Baker, Thomas Molony, Andrew Halliburton, Robert Peaslee, Samuel Pemberton and John Gordon, Masons.
Fac-Simile of the original petition of the 1st Lodge in Boston, presented to Henry Price P.G.M July 30,1733. The Brethren then unanimously agreed to petition the Grand Master to constitute them into a regular Lodge. The paper writing, which is here present, was drawn up and signed, and formally presented to Grand Master Price. He ordered the petition to be read : —
THE HUMBLE PETITION of the Following Subscribers in Behalf of themselves and Worshipful and Antient Brotherhood Belonging to the SOCIETY OF FREE AND ACCEPTED MASONS now residing Here, etc. To the RT WORSHIPFUL Bror Mr. Henry Price Deputed PROVINCIALL, G.M.: for these parts BY our RT WORSHIPFULL & WORSHIPFULL BROE & RT. HONBLB ANT0 LORD VISCT MONTAGUE G. M., of Great Brittain as per His Seal & signed by our Rt. Worshipfull Bro1'3 Tho. Batson, Esqr D.G.M: G. Rooke & Ja. Smyth, Esqra S: & J : Wardens as per s° Deputation Dated in London the 13th day of April Anno Dni 1733, and of Masonry, 5733. SHEWETH :
That your PETITIONERS aro very Sensible of the Honour done to us here by your s° Deputation, & for as much as WE are a sufficient number of Brothers regularly and duly made soe in his Majesty's Kingdoms of Great Brittain & Ireland as appeared to you on Examination & are now desirous of Enjoying each other (as well as those made here per their respective names hereunto annexd) as MASONS in a Regular & Constituted LODGE for our Harmony & Union together as well as our Brethren yt may att any time arrive here or such as may be made Brors hereafter y* is to say in due manner & Form. THEREFORE W E Request as well in our Own Name and Names As well as all other Brethren it may Concern yt you will Please to give the Necessary orders to all our Brethren within yr Limitts & Power to give their due attendance on you att a Seasonable hour to assist you & the Rest of the Brethren in their Capacitys towards Constituting a Regular Lodge att the Sign of the Bunch of Grapes in King Street known by the name of ye house of Mr Edwd Lutwytch on Monday the 30th Inst, whereby We may be enabled to assist one an other in the true & Lawfull Works of ANTIENT MASONS or att any other Place or Places as may Seem more meet & Requisite to our G: M: his Deputys & y rest of the Bro™ may agree upon & then & there to make such Private Laws & Rules not exceeding ye Bounds prescribed to us in our Printed Book of CONSTITUTIONS OR YB DEPUTATION & as will be approved & Confirmed of by them According to Antient Right & Custom & Such Lodges to be held on Every Second & Fourth Wednesday in each month for ye Common Good of us & Brethren YOUR Compli-ance herein WE doubt not will reflect much the honour of masons and masonry by Enlarging it wth many worthy Gentlemen in this Town and Elsewhere Residing WE are wtlv Respect Sir your afft Brors & Servts, JAMES GORDON. ANDW BELCHER. JOHN WADDELL. HENRY HOPE. EDMUND ELLIS. THO. KENNELLY. WM GORDON. JOHN QUANE. JNO. BAKER. FREDK HAMILTON. THOS MOLONY. JOHN MCNEALL. ANDREW HALLYBURTON. PETER HALL. ROBERT PEASLEE. MTTHEW YOUNG. SAML PEMBERTON. JOHN GORDON.
Then "granting the prayer thereof, did then and there in the most solemn manner, according to ancient Rt. and Custom and the form prescribed in our printed Book of Constitutions, Constitute" the Brethren into a regular Lodge, in manner and form. Henry Hope was chosen Master, and he nominated Frederick Hamilton and James Gordon his Wardens. These being presented to Grand Master Price, he "caused them to be duly examined, and being found well qualified, approved and confirmed them in their several stations by investing them with the implements of their office, giving each his particular charge, and admonishing the Brethren of the Lodge to due obedience and submission, according to our Printed Book of Constitutions, Charges and Regulations, etc. Thus was Masonry founded in New England."
This petition is undoubtedly the oldest original Masonic document in America. There can be no doubt of its authenticity. Its signatures have been compared with original well-known signatures, some of them in the public archives, and beyrond all question they are genuine. Its presence here places us in direct communication with the first meeting of the Brethren on this continent by chartered authority. It carries us back to that first Grand Lodge held July 30, 1733, at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern, in Boston. This paper was there, signed by those Brethren, presented to Grand Master Price, by his hands received. We can almost see reflected upon its dingy page the transactions of that occasion. Behold the clear eye of the Grand Master scanning this document, running over these names; see his honest face light up with enthusiasm as he grants its prayer. At his left hand stands his Deputy, Belcher, in the West and South, Grand Wardens Kennelly and Quane. The Brethren are grouped around their Master, Henry Hope, who is to govern the new Lodge. Over the whole scene Grand Master Price looks complacently. Before him, spread out, is the Deputation from the Grand Master of England, with the seal of that nobleman, displaying the Montague arms. The Brethren have heard it read; indeed, they have read it. Belcher, then Register of Probate, skilled in the critical examination of similar documents, has scrutinized its signatures, examined its seal, and rests satisfied. As the Grand Master beams in serene dignity from the East, upon this memorable congregation, prophetic visions possess his mind. In the vista of the future he catches glimpses of the great society. Dimly, to be sure, he comprehends the importance, of the occasion. Solemnity characterizes his conduct; and as the final act of constitution is accomplished, he feels that he has laid the foundation of an institution in this New World, which will grow and increase with the gliding years, and that the only requisite for its triumphant success will be the respectability and high moral character of its officers and members. No man has yet been bold enough to deny that Henry Price organized a Provincial Grand Lodge at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern, in Boston, on Monday, July 30, 1733; or that he then and there constituted the first Lodge.
This is admitted. The evidence in support of these facts is irresistible. It need not be recapitulated here. The monumental stone in the secluded burying-place at Townsend has stood for nearly a century, telling its story of Henry Price, our first Grand Master. The inscription has been read by his friends, acquaintances, and Brethren; by thousands who have come upon the stage of life since he departed from it. And until within the past three years no one has doubted its veracity. Recently it has been promulgated throughout the world that Henry Price had no such commission as he claimed to have, and that the one which he produced was a forgery; that Henry Price was a forger, and an utterer of a forged instrument; that from 1733 to 1780 he acted a living lie; and that the epitaph upon his headstone among the whispering pines of his rural-resting place has preached a deliberate premeditated falsehood, through summer heats and winter colds, for more than ninety years. No evidence has been adduced to prove the accusations, but the claim is made that because the absolute manual proof of the present existence of the Price Deputation is not forthcoming, therefore all other evidence is useless, and the accusations are true. The truth of history is worthy the careful search of every inquirer after the truth, and such an inquiry commands most respectful regard. But suspicions are not facts, and assertions are not proofs.
The historian Bancroft well remarks : — "As every false statement contains a contradiction, truth alone possesses harmony. Truth also, and truth alone, is permanent Facts faithfully ascertained and placed in proper contiguity become, of themselves, the firm links of a brightly-burnished chain, connecting events with their causes, and marking the line along which the electric power of truth is conveyed from generation to generation."
The records and archives of the Grand Lodge of England have been examined, and no record or minute of the Deputation to Price have been found. Past Grand Master John T. Heard, when in London last year, made a personal examination. Brother John Hervey, Grand Secretary of England, has kindly aided in the search, and W. Brother William James Hughan most courteously offered his own services, and spent a July day last summer among the archives of his Grand Lodge. It will be satisfactory, and will amply repay for the trouble, if we can find either correspondence or minutes which will throw any light upon the organization of our first Grand Lodge.
Let it be understood that it is not considered at all necessary that further evidence should be adduced to prove the genuineness of the commission to Price, to show that it was regularly issued by authority of the Grand Master of England, signed by the regular officers, and attested by a proper seal. But if there exists in England any paper which will enlighten our history, or give us any insight into the Masonic life of our first Grand Master, we want it as part of our Grand Lodge History. Copies of the petitions for the appointments of Tomlinson and Oxnard are not in our archives or upon our records, and we are as desirous of obtaining these important documents as of those relating to Price.
It is impossible now to state in what Lodge Price was made a Mason. From his own letters and from traditions existing in his family, it appears that he received light in London before coming to this country, and that he was personally acquainted with the officers of the Grand Lodge. It is to be inferred, from one of his letters written in 1755, that in 1733 he was in London. If so, he must have returned home during that or the previous year, and obtained the commission by his personal application.
A tradition now exists, among the survivors of his family, that after he first came here he did not return. Annexed hereto are copies of the Deputations to Price, Tomlinson, Oxnard, Gridley and Rowe, for the purpose of comparison. A copy of the Deputation granted in 1730 to Daniel Coxe, Esq., of New Jersey, is also annexed. Its similarity to that of Price is striking. It is claimed that these several commissions, when compared, will show the genuineness of that of Price.
The Deputation of Price sets forth that the "seal of office" is affixed to the instrument. By this we should infer that the Seal of the Grand Lodge was the "seal of office." But the commission is not attested by the Grand Secretary, who ordinarily alone has the right to affix the Grand Lodge Seal to official papers. In the absence of his attestation and signature, the inference is strong that Lord Montague affixed to the Deputation his own seal,— the Montague Seal. There are weighty reasons for this belief, the strongest of which is the allegation made in the Petition for the first Lodge in Boston, which clearly states that the seal of Lord Montague was affixed to the Price Deputation. This would seem to be sufficient, but, in addition to this, the Seal of the Provincial Grand Lodge had a literal translation of the motto upon the Montague Arms, — "Suivez Raison," rendered "Follow Reason." A more correct translation would be " Follow Right." It is impossible to state with certainty how early the Grand Lodge Seal was adopted. The records do not allude to it. The earliest impression we have of any seal is that of the First Lodge, made in 1755. This seal differs from the Grand Lodge Seal in this: the supporters are lizards with forked tongues, while the supporters upon the Grand Lodge Seal are beavers. It is probable that the seal was very early determined upon and fixed. Seals were considered even more important in those days than at present, and it is not likely that the Grand Lodge would have remained without one for any length of time. It is more than probable that the seal was immediately settled upon, and that its motto was taken from the Montague Seal upon the Deputation of Price, while the general character of the Seal of the Grand Lodge of England was retained, adding to the dove composing the crest, an olive branch in its mouth. If the inquiry is made where could the impression of the Seal of the Grand Lodge of England be obtained by the Brethren in Boston, if it was not upon-the Deputation of Price, the answer is, that when Crawford extended his powers in 1734 over all North America, he did it by an instrument upon which was the Grand Lodge Seal. When the Seal of the Provincial Grand Lodge was determined, it is evident that the Brethren composed it from the Seal of the Grand Lodge of England, and from the seal of Lord Montague, both of which they had access to. We still retain the original seal of silver which was used by the old Provincial Grand Lodge, a cut of which, with an impression of the Seal of the Grand Lodge of England in use in 1733 and 1734, of the seal used by the first Lodge, and of the Montague Arms, appear on the opposite page.
In 1733 William Reid was Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of England, and he retained the office until March, 1736, Steven Revis was appointed. The Price Commission shows that it was granted upon the application of Price, and upon his own well-known reliable character. It recites no petition, refers to none. The personality of Price, so to speak, runs through it. He applies for it in behalf of himself and several other Brethren in New England, and the commission is granted to him. Price was undoubtedly known to the Grand Lodge, as the Master of a Lodge, as one who had experience and knowledge, and to whom such an important trust could with propriety be confided. All his acts under this commission show that it was a genuine instrument, and that he believed it to be such; nothing was done secretly. The fact that Price had this Deputation was matter of public notoriety. It attracted public attention.
In the words of our Grand Lodge records of December, 1733, "Masonry caused great speculation in these days in New England to the great, vulgar, and the small." It caused general talk, not only among gentlemen high in political and social life, but among all classes was subject of comment. Jonathan Belcher was at that time Governor of the Province. From his own account he was made a Mason as early as 1704, while in England. He was graduated at Harvard College in 1699, and immediately went abroad, and was absent six years. Returning home, he engaged in business. In 1728 he went to London on public affairs. He arrived here in August, 1730, with the Royal Commission, and entered upon his duties as Governor. There must have been some kind of relation between the Governor and Price, for the latter appointed his son Andrew, then Register of Probate for Suffolk, his Deputy Grand Master, and the Governor the same year gave Price a Cornet's Commission in his own troop or body-guard. The Deputation of Price and the establishment of the First Lodge were well known to the Governor, and he gave to Masonry, especially to the First Lodge, his ardent support and encouragement. Through the Governor and through gentlemen coming to Boston and going to England, the fact that this Deputation was here must have been as well known in London as here in America, and if it had been a forgery, as claimed, would have been early discovered, and the Masonry of Price been denounced as clandestine.
In August, 1734, the Society had become so well known that the newspapers of Boston advertised, as "Lately Published, — the Constitutions of the Freemasons, containing the History, Charges, Regulations, etc., of that most ancient and R.W. Fraternity, for the use of Lodges," for sale at the Heart and Crown, in Cornhill, Boston. This was probably an American edition of Anderson, republished by Benjamin Franklin in 1734, at Philadelphia, and referred to in the postscript of Franklin's letter to Price.
In June, 1734, Benjamin Franklin came to Boston. He had not been here since 1724. After first leaving his native town, and before 1734, he had been to England and had there probably been made a Mason. Upon this visit he became acquainted with Price, who, in the language of our Grand Lodge records, "further instructed him in the Royal Art." Price also gave him authority to establish a Lodge in Philadelphia, which upon the return of Franklin was duly constituted. In the year 1734, our records state, Price received orders from the Grand Master of England to establish Masonry in all North America: The form of these orders is not set out. In a letter of Price recorded upon our records, he says that the Commission of Montague was extended over all North America, by John Lindsay, Earl of Craufurd. Craufurd became Grand Master March 30th, 1734, and held the office until April 17th, 1735. On the 28th of November, 1734, Franklin addressed a letter to Price and the Brethren, a copy of which is appended, in which he says, "We have seen in the Boston prints an article of news from London, importing that at a Grand Lodge held there in August last, Mr. Price's Deputation and power were extended over all North America." The files of Boston newspapers of this year are incomplete, and the article referred to cannot be found. It was undoubtedly printed in some Boston print. Franklin was interested in newspapers and probably received all that were published in Boston. Such was the accuracy of Franklin that no one can doubt that the article referred to actually appeared as stated.
It is now settled that no communication of the Grand Lodge of England was held in August, 1734. Indeed, none was required to be held. The Grand Master exercised his own will in granting such powers, and in those days did not even report his appointments of Provincial Grand Masters to Grand Lodge, nor give account of Deputations granted. The looseness of language, used by newspapers in those days in chronicling Masonic doings, was probably as common as we find it in our time. The language fairly means, that in August last the Grand Lodge of England extended the powers of Mr. Price, and to a well-informed Mason it. conveys the idea that the Grand Master performed the act. The act of the Grand Master is termed the act of the Grand Lodge, even in these days. Franklin did not consider it a new Deputation, for in the letter referred to he asked Price to send him a copy of his first Deputation, and also the instrument by which it appears to be enlarged.
This letter of Franklin for many years hung in a glass case, in our Grand Secretary's office, and was examined by numerous experts; no one who saw it ever doubted that Franklin wrote it. An officer of our Grand Lodge cut off the signature of Franklin to the private letter addressed to Price, and retained it among his collection of autographs. Through the kindness of Past Grand Master Lewis, it has been returned, and it is now here present. At the burning of the Winthrop House the mutilated letter of Franklin was consumed.
In 1735 the Brethren at Portsmouth, N. H , by a petition (the original is here before you), asked for a Lodge in that town, and it was granted to them. It was as follows : —
Picture to be provided
Fac-Simile of the original presented to Henry Price P.G.M.February 1735-6.
To the Right Worshipfull fy Worshipfull Henry Price, Grand Master of the Society of Free and Accepted Masons held in Boston, and To y" rest of the Brothers, GREETING : WEE the under named persons of the holy and Exquisite Lodge of S' John do request a Deputation and power to hold a Lodge According to order as is and has been granted to faithfull Brothers in all parts of the World; wee have our Constitutions both in print and manuscript as good and as ancient as any that England can afford.
WORTHY SIR : — Wee request ye above as a favour hearing that there is A Superiour Lodge held in Boston, and if Granted, it will encourage us to keep a Constant correspondence, by comunicating our brotherly affections, one to another once a Quarter, which Concludes us as wee ought Gentn Your Obedient Servants, PORTSMOUTH February ye 5 Day 1735-6. ROBT. BROUGH. THO. CANNAN. JOHN MILLS. JONATHAN NAILER. WILLM CANTERBURY. WILLM GROGAN.
December 27th, 1735, James Gordon was appointed Deputy Grand Master. It does not appear why Andrew Belcher did not continue in office. He was busily engaged in public affairs, and lived at Milton upon his father's estate, the care of which devolved upon him, and it may be that he found it inconvenient, perhaps distasteful, to attend to his duties in the Grand Lodge. He was indolent, unambitious, and although he held various offices, they were given rather because he was the son of Governor Belcher, than from anything by him done to merit them. A petition was at this time received for a Lodge at Annapolis, Nova Scotia, and also one for a Lodge at Halifax, of which his Excellency Ed. Cornwallis was appointed the first Master. Thus, throughout the length and breadth of North America,
among all the Craft, the power and authority of Grand Master Price was known and recognized. Is it possible that the Grand Lodge at London could remain ignorant of his claims, pretensions and acts?
The principle of limiting the term of Grand Master to three years has been a cherished idea in Massachusetts, and it probably originated with Price. When Gridley and Rowe were recommended to this office, the Brethren expressly asked the appointing power to limit their terms to three years. For eighty years this limitation has been a part of our Constitutions.
When Price had served his three years he resigned; so says the record. To whom could he resign? Not to his Brethren here, but to the Grand Master at London. The Brethren petitioned the Grand Master that Robert Tomlinson, of Boston, should be appointed. The Deputation of Tomlinson so says. Can it be doubted that this petition set forth the previous appointment of Price, and the state and condition of Masonry in New England? Does any one believe that this petition was not accompanied by a letter from Price to the Grand Lodge, as we find to be the case in other appointments? Unfortunately our Grand Lodge Records from 1733 to 1750, are very meagre, and they record only brief statements of the proceedings.
During these years most of the transactions of Masonry were conducted in the First Lodge, or, as it was generally called, the Mother Lodge. The Grand Lodge had but little business before it. The celebration of the St. John's Days were under the auspices of the Grand Lodge. The records of the Mother Lodge gave a better account of Masonry in Boston than the proceedings of the Grand Lodge. The Deputation of Price was copied into the First Lodge's Records, and minute and full accounts of the progress of the Craft here were set out upon its pages. If the Grand Lodge had quarterly meetings, they were not recorded until after 1749.
It is probable that this petition was settled upon on St. John's Day, in June, 1736, just previous to the expiration of the three years' term of Grand Master Price. The Brethren celebrated this anniversary "in a very handsome manner, according to the custom among Masons, having the honor of Governor Belcher's company, and sundry other Brothers of note, at dinner."
The Boston Evening Post of Monday, June 28th, 1736, contains the following account of this celebration: — "Thursday last being the Festival of St. John the Baptist, the annual meeting of the Free and Accepted Masons, they accordingly met at the Royal Exchange, King Street, Boston. The Grand Master nominated and appointed Messieurs James Cerke and Benjamin Barons his Grand Wardens, and the Lodge chose Mr. Robert Tomlinson Master, and Messieurs Hugh McDaniel and John Osborn Wardens for the year ensuing, and after which they had an elegant entertainment, his Excellency the Governor (Belcher), the Rev. Mr. Commissary Price, and several gentlemen of distinction, being present."
The question of the "New Grand Master" was undoubtedly discussed while Grand Master Price presided, and it is not at all improbable that Governor Belcher and the other Brethren of note gave their advice and expressed their opinion. Tomlinson was fixed upon, — a gentleman of means and of distinction. He was chosen Master of the Lodge to qualify him for the position. In those early days it appeared to be an absolute requisite for the Provincial Grand Mastership, that the incumbent should have been Master of a Lodge. Thereupon the Petition for Tomlinson's appointment was prepared and sent to England.
The Commission to Tomlinson was dated December 7th, 1736, and arrived in Boston April 20th, 1737. It was granted by the Earl of Loudoun, Grand Master, and commences as follows: "Whereas a Petition has been presented unto us and signed by several Brethren now residing in the Province of New England aforesaid, in the name of themselves and of all the Brethren residing in said Province, humbly praying that we would please to nominate and appoint a NEW Grand Master for said Province," etc., etc. It will be seen that the Petition is for the appointment of a new Provincial Grand Master — new as distinguished from the old — a new Grand Master in place of the old one, Price, who had resigned.
Our own records throw some light upon the meaning of this word new, and serve to explain its use in the Deputation. At a meeting of the Grand Lodge, held October 23d, 1767, immediately after Grand Master Gridley's death, it "was voted and ordered, that this Grand Lodge meet again on the First Friday in December next, in order to come to the choice of a NEW GRAND MASTER," etc. September 30th, 1768, the summons ordered to be issued by the Grand Secretary to the Brethren, to attend a meeting to regulate the installation of Rowe, has this phrase: "The Committee chosen to write to England for a Deputation for the NEW elected Grand Master," etc., etc. October 31, 1768, the Grand Secretary wrote, "The Deputation for our NEW GRAND MASTER being arrived," etc. Several other extracts from the records might be cited, showing the same use of this word " NEW." It presupposes an old officer who has relinquished his office, to fill which a new one is appointed. In the ordinary use of words, what we get in exchange for the old is new. New is opposed to old. It supposes something previous. The new year is opposed to the old year, — a new edition is one just republished.
This word "new" clearly shows that a prior appointment had been made, that a previous Deputation had been issued, and that it was well known by the Grand Lodge in London. Tomlinson was installed into office by his predecessor, Grand Master Price. In 1738 Tomlinson went to England via Antigua, "where, finding some old Boston Masons, he went to work and made the Governor, and sundry other gentlemen of distinction, Masons, whereby from our Lodge sprung Masonry in the West Indies." Upon his arrival in London, where he had a Brother residing (John Tomlinson, Agent of the New Hampshire Province), he attended the Grand Lodge, and was present at a Communication held at the Devil Tavern on Wednesday, January 31st, 1739. The Earl of Loudoun, who, as Grand Master, gave him his Deputation, and Thomas Batson, who was Deputy Grand Master when Price received his Commission, and who signed it as such, together with John Revis, who was Grand Secretary under Crawford, when Price received his extension of power, were present at this meeting of the Grand Lodge. George Payne, Esq., and John Theoph. Desaguliers, LL.D. and F. R. S., Past Grand Masters, were also present. It is unnecessary to argue that Tomlinson was interrogated as to the state and condition of Masonry in New England, and that he gave the Brethren a full account of what had transpired in these parts. Through Tomlinson, the Grand Officers, members of the Grand Lodge, must have known of what Price had been doing, and of the Deputation and authority under which he had been acting. If he did not, the accusers of Price must go further, and charge that Tomlinson was in league with Price, and particeps criminis. This visit of Tomlinson to the Grand Lodge, in 1739, settles the question of knowledge, by the Grand Lodge of England, as to the acts and doings of Price. Possessing this knowledge through Tomlinson, the Grand Officers expressed no surprise, and did not repudiate his acts as unauthorized. At this time the whole matter was fresh in the minds and memories of the present and past Grand Officers, and the authority under which Price presumed to act was by them unquestioned.
In May, 1739, Tomlinson arrived at Boston. The Boston Evening Post of Monday, June 25th, 1739, has the following announcement: — "We hear that the Society of Free and Accepted Masons belonging to the Lodge in this Town, intend, to-morrow, to walk in procession in all their formalities, with a pair of Kettle Drums before them, from the south end of the town, to the house of Mr. Luke Vardy, in King street, where a most elegant supper will be provided." The succeeding files of this paper are not accessible, and it is impossible to determine whether the contemplated procession was carried out.
December 27th, of the same year, Tomlinson appointed Thomas Oxnard his Deputy. From this last date the records are silent in relation to Tomlinson, until March 6th, 1744, when he is referred to as having deceased." The Boston Evening Post," the "New England Weekly Journal," and the "Boston Weekly Post Boy," in several issues, published in September, October and November, 1740, contain the following advertisement: —
"WHEREAS: Robert Tomlinson, late of Boston, Merchant, at the Island of Antigua, on the 15th of July last made his Will, touching his estate in the West Indies, and thereby directed the Executors of that will (after payment of his debts and Funeral expenses and other disbursements), to transmit the Remainder of his estate to me, Benjamin Hallowell, of Boston, to be disposed of as his Will there (in Boston) directs; and the said Robert soon after died, but his Will last mentioned has not yet been found: These, therefore, are earnestly to desire such persons (if any such there be) as hath in his possession that Will, by the said Testator declared to be in Boston, to carry the same to the Hon. the Judge of the Probate of Wills for the County of Suffolk, or to the Registers Office, or to give me notice thereof, that so the Will of the deceased Gentleman may be lawfully proved, and afterwards fulfilled.
Letters of administration upon the estate of Tomlinson were granted to Benjamin Hallowell November 17th, 1740; and although strenuous exertions were made to find the will, and suspected persons were examined, it was not discovered. The Deputation to Oxnard is dated September 23, 1743; it arrived in Boston March 6th, 1744. During the interregnum, from July, 1740, when Tomlinson died, until March, 1744, when Oxnard received his commission, Price presided and acted as Provincial Grand Master. Thus for nearly four years he exercised the powers of Grand Master, publicly and notoriously, and this fact must have been known to the Grand Officers and Grand Lodge at London. During these years the Institution of Freemasonry had acquired such prominence, not only in New England, but throughout America, that the Home Government in Great Britain must have been conversant with what was transpiring here.
The first Lodge constituted by Price, July 30th, 1733, met at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern, until 1735, when, by the permission of Grand Master Price, it was removed to the Royal Exchange Tavern, in King Street, and the Lodge was afterwards known by the name of the Royal Exchange. The tavern so named was situated upon the north side of what is now State Street, and occupied the site of the present Merchants Bank, corner of State and Exchange street. It was kept at this time by Luke Vardy, and his house was noted. At the celebration of the Feast of St. John, in December, 1749, there was a public procession through the streets of Boston, upon which a "poem " or lampoon was written, in which the keeper of the Royal Exchange is thus alluded to: —
" Where's honest Luke; that cook from London;
For, without Luke, the LODGE is undone.
'Twas he who oft dispelled their sadness,
And filled the Brethren's hearts with gladness.
Luke, in return, is made a Brother,
As good and true as any other;
And still, though broke with age and wine,
Preserves the token and the sign."
The first printed English Grand Lodge Calendar, containing a register of all the Lodges, was prepared in 1736, and printed in the latter part of that year, or early in 1737. The Lodge at Boston appears there as follows: "Royal Exchange, No. 126, Boston, New England, 30 July, 1733." Grand Secretary Harvey, in a note dated November 15,1871, writes that " The date of the warrant, 30 July, 1733, is written in ink. It continued to be printed in the calendar as 126, until 1740, when the number was changed to 110." After the calendar of 1736 it appears in succeeding editions with the date of its warrant, July 30, 1733. It was printed in the edition of 1736 in its proper place, with the Lodges constituted in 1733. The Grand Lodge must have therefore known that the Lodge was in existence, and probably knew of it when it was located at the Bunch of Grapes. The fee for its constitution was duly paid, and undoubtedly Grand Master Price transmitted it to England. No edition of the Calendar was printed in 1738, but it is believed that annually thereafter it was published, and in every succeeding edition the Royal Exchange in Boston, New England, constituted July 30th, 1733, was before the eyes of the Grand Officers and of all the Brethren. Entick, in his Constitutions of 1756, prints " a list of regular Lodges, according to their seniority and constitution, by order of the Grand Master." In this list appears as No. 65, "Royal Exchange — Boston in New England, 2° and 4th Saturday, 1733." Cole, in his Calendar published in 1761, under the authority of the Grand Master, so gives it, with its new number 65. It is evident that the Grand Officers at London were informed of the existence of the "Royal Exchange Lodge," either by the correspondence of Price, or by that relating to the appointment of Tomlinson.
It was known and registered two years before Tomlinson went to England. Whenever or wherever they derived the information, they must have known that the Lodge was established in 1733, prior to the appointment of Tomlinson, and thus they must have been put upon their inquiry as to the origin and legitimacy of the Royal Exchange, unless they had full knowledge of the commission to Price and of the establishment of the Lodge by him. Governor Belcher was succeeded in office by Governor Shirley in August, 1741, at which time the "Mother Lodge," as its members were pleased to call it, wrote him a complimentary letter through a committee, a copy of which, with the Governor's reply, is hereto appended. A letter to Governor Shirley (printed in the newspapers of the day), when he first entered upon his duties, and a correspondence with Governor Belcher, when he was made Governor of New Jersey, are also appended. After Belcher was superseded by Shirley, he remained in New England until August, 1743, when he sailed for London in one of the mast-ships, so called. From the great interest he took in the Craft while in Boston, it is possible, and indeed probable, that the appointment of Oxnard was through his procurement, and perhaps immediately upon his reaching London. He could have reached London before September 23d, when Oxnard's commission bears date. The fact of the long interregnum, and that the appointment of Oxnard was made after Belcher left New England, and as soon as he could have arrived at London, and communicated with the Grand Master, seem to give strength to the probability that Oxnard's Deputation was obtained through him. Oxnard was a merchant of character and influence, and his marriage with Sarah Osborne, daughter of John Osborne, who in 1745 married Mrs. Hutchinson, the mother of Governor Hutchinson, gave him social distinction. His son Edward was graduated at Harvard College in 1767, and in a class of forty-two, composed of the sons of many prominent gentlemen in the province, young Oxnard ranked as the third. This fixes the honorable social position of the Oxnard family.
The Deputation refers to no petition, but recites that "whereas application hath been made unto us by several of our Brethren residing in North America, praying that we would appoint a Provincial Grand Master for North America, in the room of our Bro. Robert Tomlinson, Esq., deceased," etc., etc. It does not appear from any source why a Grand Master was not sooner appointed. Perhaps the Brethren here were divided in opinion, and could not unite in a recommendation. Perhaps Price was not satisfied with Oxnard, and therefore would not ask for his Deputation, preferring the appointment of his friend McDaniel; and how much the politics of the day had to do with it, we know not. The vacancy existed nearly four years, for which some good reason is assignable.
At a Grand Lodge held at the Devil Tavern, Temple Bar, Sept. 26th, 1744, the Earl of Strathmore, Grand Master, presiding, Governor Belcher was present. "A guinea was paid to the charity for the Royal Exchange, Boston. A letter was read from the Royal Exchange Lodge, Boston, New England, informing the Brethren of Br. Belcher's many favors to the Craft in that part of the world ; whereat the Lodge expressed the highest satisfaction, and their sense of the many obligations the Craft in general owed Br. Belcher, and ordered that his health be drank with thanks, which was done with ceremony." Call to mind that Gov. Belcher was in Boston from 1730 to 1743; that his son Andrew Belcher was the first appointed Deputy Grand Master under Price in 1733, and held the office two years; that he had appointed Price a Cornet with the rank of Major in his body-guard of troop ; that he was present at a Provincial Grand Lodge in Boston, where Price presided while he held the office of Grand Master; that he was deeply interested in the success of the Craft in New England and in North America, and can it be within the bounds of probability that Belcher, in conversation with the Grand Officers, did not inform them, give them full and complete knowledge of the transactions of Price and Tomlinson, Provincial Grand Masters, and of the condition of Masonry in New England? Price had occupied too prominent a position with regard to Freemasonry, to be forgotten or overlooked, and the fact that for four years he had acted as Grand Master, after the death of Tomlinson, by virtue of his prior appointment, must have been spoken of by Belcher, and commented upon by the Grand Officers. The long establishment of the Royal Exchange, and its constitution by Price, were in all human probability subjects of interesting conversation. If never before, the Grand Lodge were fully informed by Belcher, at this time, of the doings of Price.
In the first Lodge but two degrees were conferred, and the third was never given by this Lodge until after 1792. This last grade was supposed to be exclusively within the power of the Grand Lodge to confer. Januuary 2°, 1738, "The R. Worsh1 Lodge of Masters was founded, and our R. Worsh1 Br. Mr. Henry Price chosen First Master." As already stated, March 6th, 1744, the Deputation of Oxnard, dated Sept. 23°, 1743, arrived here. Entick and, others say that it was granted in 1742. Perhaps the Grand Lodge records so state. Oxnard was installed into office by Past Grand Master Price, and entered upon the discharge of his duties.
In the summer of 1751 Oxnard went to England, and was absent about a year. During his visit to London he undoubtedly communicated with the Grand Officers, and through him they must have been informed of Price, who installed him into the office of Grand Master, and of all that he had done for Masonry in New England. During the absence of Oxnard, January 20th, 1752, the Deputy Grand Master McDaniel informed the Brethren that the occasion of the meeting of the Grand Lodge" was to consider the 21st Article in the Printed Book of Constitutions, relating to the successor to the chair in the absence of the Grand Master. The R.W. Thomas Oxnard, Esq., our Grand Master, having gone to England, it was moved that the right to the chair devolved upon our R.W. Br. Henry Price. After the Brethren had given their opinions," it was put to vote "whether we should send two of the Brethren to desire our R.W. Br. Price to come and resume his office, which passed in the negative."
The article referred to is in Anderson's Constitutions, and provides that "if the Grand Master died during his Mastership, or by sickness, or by being beyond sea," etc., the Grand Lodge shall be called to advise together, and to send two of their number "to invite the last Grand Master to resume his office, which now in course reverts to him." It is probable that the presence of the Deputy was considered sufficient. It cannot now be stated whether the movement, or the opposition thereto, grew out of any ill feeling, or whether Oxnard's appointment had any connection with it. Price did not resent it, for he was present at the next meeting of the Grand Lodge, and at the Feast of Saint John the Baptist, at each of which the Deputy presided.
Among the distinguished gentlemen in Boston about this time, was Lord Colvill. He was Master of the Second Lodge in Boston for two years, and represented it in the Grand Lodge at Boston at each Quarterly Communication. This Lodge was established February 15, 1749, and Price was the first Master, being succeeded by Lord Colvill in 1750, In 1752, Colvill was appointed Deputy Grand Master, but in the fall of that year he returned to England. From the zeal and interest which he exhibited here for the Institution of Masonry, the inference is clear, that upon his return to England he made the Craft there acquainted with the condition of affairs in Boston, and that through him the Grand Lodge was informed of Henry Price, and of what he had done. Price was not only active in Grand Lodge, but he was interested in the subordinate Lodges, attending their meetings with great regularity, and participating in their proceedings. All this Colvill well knew.
On Tuesday, June 26, 1754, Thomas Oxnard, after a lingering illness, died, in the fifty-first year of his age, having held the office of Grand Master eleven years. The Grand Lodge attended his funeral on the Friday following. At a Grand Lodge held July 12th, 1754, Brothers Charles Pelham and Joseph Gardner were appointed to wait upon R.W. Br. Henry Price, to request him to resume his office of Grand Master, in the room of R.W. Br. Thomas Oxnard, deceased, which now of course reverted to him. Br. Price appeared and took the Chair.
October 11, 1754, Jeremy Gridley was chosen Grand Master, and a committee was appointed " to draw a petition to the Grand Master of England, for a Deputation for a Grand Master of North America." A copy of this petition is set forth in the Appendix. By referring to this petition it will be seen that the Grand Lodge of England was informed of the exact position of Price, and of the powers which he received from Grand Master Crawford, and this is done in clear and unmistakable language. At a Grand Lodge held August 21st, 1755, Jeremy Gridley, Esq., informed Grand Master Price that he had received a Deputation, appointing him Grand Master of North America, and delivered the Deputation to Br. Price, who ordered the Secretary to read it, and record it in the Grand Lodge Book. An examination of the Deputation shows that it was granted in conformity with the request in the petition, and that it is a virtual confirmation of all the facts and statements therein set forth.
John Revis, who was appointed Grand Secretary March 30th, 1734, was still Grand Secretary. He went into office with Lord Crawford, by whom it was claimed, in the petition, the former Deputation to Price was extended over all North America, and as Grand Secretary, April 4th, 1755, he signed the Gridley Deputation. It would be a wild statement to assert that he was ignorant of what had transpired in New England and North America. The whole history of Freemasonry in North America, from March, 1734, through the administrations of Price, Tomlinson and Oxnard, was fully within his knowledge, and fresh in his mind and memory. To suppose the contrary is to allege that he was unfit for his official station, in which he was retained for more than a quarter of a century; and for faithful duty, in which he was rewarded with the Deputy Grand Mastership of England, when he retired from the Secretariat. This petition, and the Deputation granted in answer thereto, would settle this whole question in the minds of candid men, even though no other evidence should be offered. Revis, knowing all the facts, familiar with them, part and parcel of them, affirmed the statement in the petition, and the Deputation was issued as requested. Here we might rest with confidence, had we not stronger testimony even than this most conclusive result to bring forward.
In March, 1752, Thomas Manningham, M.D., was appointed Deputy Grand Master, and held the office until April, 1755. During his continuance in this office he was in effect the Grand Master. He was clear-headed, able, and interested in the Craft, and his name has not yet been forgotten. It cannot be supposed that Dr. Manningham was ignorant of the history of Masonry in New England, or that he could be imposed upon in the manner claimed by the accusers of Price. Jeremy Gridley, named in the Deputation as Provincial Grand Master, was no ordinary man. He was born in 1705, was graduated at Harvard College in 1725. In 1731, he was the editor of the Weekly Rehearsal, a newspaper published in Boston, and held the position a little over a year. From 1731 to the time of his death, he was a resident of Boston, and was familiar with what occurred in town. He acquired great reputation in his profession as a lawyer, and is now spoken of as the Webster of his day. He was Attorney-General of the Province, and was distinguished for his classical attainments and learning, as well as for his great legal ability. He was made a Mason in the First Lodge May 11th, 1748, and was its Master in 1754. It can with difficulty be believed that such a man as Gridley remained ignorant of all the details of the history of his Provincial Grand Lodge, from the time of its organization, in 1733, to the day when he became Grand Master. With his clear, powerful, discriminating mind, any pretence would have been penetrated, any imposition would certainly have been exposed. But Gridley presented his Deputation to Price for examination, and on Wednesday, October 1st, 1755, he was installed into office by Henry Price, with great pomp and ceremony, in Concert Hall, after which a long concourse of Brethren marched in procession to Trinity Church, where the Rev. Mr. Hooper read prayers, and the Rev. Mr. Brown preached a sermon. In this public procession through the streets of Boston, the present and late Grand Masters Gridley and Price, clothed with their jewels and badges, walked together and closed the procession.
From 1756 to 1758, Price presided over the Master's Lodge. In 1756 the Earl of Loudoun was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the army throughout the British Continental Provinces in America, and Governor of the Province of Virginia. He sailed from England in May, and arrived at New York on the 29th of July. The Earl came to Boston in the discharge of his public duties, to meet a Congress of Governors and other Commissioners. This was in the latter part of January, 1757. The Convention lasted ten days. Loudoun arrived in Boston on Wednesday, the 9th of January, and was here in all about three weeks. On Monday, the 24th, he dined with the Governor, and a large number of both Houses, at Concert Hall.
At a meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge, held January 31st, 1757, "the Rt. W.G.M. informed the Lodge that the occasion of this meeting was to make Capt. Harry Charteris, Capt. Gilbert McAdams, aide de camp, Dr. Richard Huck, and Mr. John Appy, Secretary to the Earl of Loudoun, with Mr. John Melville, Masons (who came to town from Marblehead with Bro. Lowell, on purpose to be made a Mason), which the Lodge unanimously agreed to. Our R.W.G.M. appointed Bro. Richard Gridley (then Master of the First Lodge), "to make the above five gentlemen Masons, who was made entered Prentices and Passed Fellow Crafts." The Grand Master summoned the Brethren to attend him at Concert Hall to celebrate the Feast of Saint John the Evangelist. This could not have been December 27th, 1756. It was about the last of January or first of February, 1757. Among the distinguished Brethren present, were His Excellency John, Earl of Loudoun, late Grand Master of Masons in England, and His Excellency, Charles Lawrence, Esq., Governor of Halifax. Br. James Otis, who was one of the Commissioners from Massachusetts, to confer with Lord Loudoun, was also present.
Loudoun was installed Grand Master, April 15th, 1736, being Master of a Lodge, and Price acted as Provincial Grand Master under his Grand Mastership, from March 15th, 1736, to April 20th, 1737, a period of one year and thirty-five days. He granted the Deputation to Tomlinson, December 7th, 1736. An examination of the Grand Lodge Records shows that he was a constant attendant upon the meetings of the Grand Lodge, and that he was deeply interested in the success of Freemasonry. He was appointed second upon the committee to publish the Constitutions edited by Entick.
At the Feast held at Concert Hall, Henry Price was present. Past Grand Master Loudoun must at this time, if never before, have been informed of the true state of affairs in New England, and of the high position which Price had occupied in the Provincial Grand Lodge, at the head of which he had represented Loudoun for over a year. If no such authority had been conferred upon Price as was claimed, then Lord Loudoun would have had the honor of introducing Masonry into New England, as he gave Tomlinson his Commission, and Tomlinson succeeded Price. But we hear of no such claim from the Earl, no words of censure against Price, nor, upon his return to England, does he represent that an impostor had been at work in the Province of Massachusetts Bay, or that a forged Deputation had been palmed off upon a credulous Fraternity.
By his evidence, both at Boston and at London, he confirmed all the proceedings of Price, and ratified his doings in the office which he assumed to hold. To the candid mind, this silence offers the strongest evidence of the genuineness of the commissions which Price claimed to hold, and affords convincing proof, at this late day, that Price was duly and legitimately deputed by ample authority to hold the high office which he presumed to occupy. Nor should the fact that for more than a twelvemonth Price acted as the Provincial Grand Master of the noble Earl of Loudoun, in North America, as well as in New England, by virtue of the Deputations granted by Montague and Crawford, and that as Grand Master Loudoun must have had knowledge of these doings, escape our observation, especially as the Grand Master and his own Provincial are at this Feast brought face to face, in the presence of witnesses cognizant of all the Masonic acts and proceedings of the Grand Masters of England, relating to New England, as well as of those of the Provincial Grand Master Henry Price from 1733 to the day of the festival which they are celebrating.
Thursday evening, September 10, 1767, Provincial Grand Master Jeremy Gridley departed this life. The record states that at the time of his decease he was Attorney General of the Province, a member of the great and General Court of said Province, and a Justice throughout the same; Colonel of the First Regiment of Militia; President of the Marine Society, etc. His funeral was conducted with great ceremony, and was attended by the Grand Lodge, and by St. Andrew's Lodge. At a Grand Lodge held Friday, October 20, 1767, it was voted unanimously that the Grand Secretary be directed to write to R.W. Henry Price, Esq., Past Grand Master of Masons, requesting him to resume the chair as Grand Master. The letter of the Grand Secretary is set forth in the Appendix, and is copied from the original, which is here present.
At the quarterly meeting of the Grand Lodge held Friday, October 23, 1767, "the Grand Secretary having read the votes of the last Grand Lodge of October 2, concerning the vacancy in the Grand Master's chair, and the Lodge's resolution to invite the Rt. Worshipful Henry Price, Esquire, to reassume the office of Grand Master, as he had done heretofore on like occasions,— as also the copy of the letter written to him by the Grand Secretary,— whereupon the Deputy Grand Master (as above) ordered the Grand Wardens to wait upon Brother Price and desire his attendance in the Lodge. When he came in he was placed on the right hand of the Grand Master's chair, where he was invested with the ensigns of Grand Master by the Deputy Grand Master, who introduced him into Solomon's Chair with the following speech: —
"RT. WORSHIPFUL BROTHER PRICE :— You (to the satisfaction of all the Lodges) have had the Honour of first introducing Masonry into these Parts of the World, and, intentionally, for the good of Masonry, have resigned the Chair of Grand Master to three Successors, whom Providence has deprived us of: particularly of our late worthy Grand Master Jeremy Gridley, Esqr.
"And as you have supplied the Vacancy's of all three, according to our Constitutions, I now invest you again with the Jewel of Grand Master, and give you Possession of Solomon's Chair, until the vacancy is otherwise supplied, and hope it will be to your satisfaction, and to the Lodges here, and all other Lodges under this Jurisdiction. And now I congratulate you with all our Brethren, on your Resumption of this high Dignity."
" In order to come to the choice of a new Grand Master," it was voted that the Grand Lodge meet on the first Friday in December, and the following notification was published in all the public newspapers in the town of Boston : —
"BOSTON, October 26th, 1767.
"The Grand Lodge, or Quarterly Communication of Free and Accepted Masons, assembled at Boston on Friday the 23d Inst, having taken into consideration their loss in the Death of the late Jeremy Gridley, Esqr, the last Grand Master: Resolved to invite the Right Worshipful Henry Price, Esqr, Past Grand Master of that Ancient and Honorable Society, to Reassume the office again, as it constitutionally reverted to him. He having consented thereto, was with the usual Ceremonies invested, and placed at the Head of Masonry, till another Grand Master is elected here and Constituted by the Grand Master of England. Whereof all the Fraternity in North America and the West Indies under this Jurisdiction are to take due notice.
" By Order of the Grand Lodge,
" A. SAVAGE, Gr. Secr."
November 13, Grand Master Price, by a letter addressed to Grand Secretary Savage, further adjourned the Grand Lodge to the fourth Friday in January, 1768.
The Feast of Saint John, the Evangelist, was observed at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern, December 30, 1767, Grand Master Henry Price presiding. The same day, as Grand Master, he executed a Commission to Thomas Cooper, of Pitts County, in the Province of North Carolina. This Commission rehearses "that by virtue of the power and authority committed to us by the Right Honorable and Right Worshipful Anthony, Lord Viscount Montague, Grand Master of Masons," he makes the appointment, and authorizes Cooper to be Deputy Grand Master within the Province of North Carolina. This Deputation is signed by the Deputy Grand Master John Rowe, and by the Grand Wardens Archibald McNeil and John Cutler. At the adjourned meeting held at the Bunch of Grapes, January 22, 1768, it was voted that the Grand Master of England be requested to appoint the person recommended for Grand Master of North America for three years only. "The election of a Grand Master being assigned to this time, the Right Worshipful Brother Price, the present Grand Master, nominated the Right Worshipful John Rowe, Esq., the present Deputy Grand Master and Grand Treasurer, to be Grand Master of Masons for North America. After balloting in the usual manner by sixteen votes, there were twelve in favor of the nomination, and four against it. Whereupon our said Right Worshipful Brother Rowe was declared duly and constitutionally elected to the said high office, and was accordingly saluted as Grand Master elect." A committee of nine was appointed to write to England for the Deputation. The committee met at the Bunch of Grapes, Monday, January 25, 1768, and drew up the following Petition: —
"To the Most Noble and Rl Worshipful Henry Duke of Beaufort, Grand Master of the Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons of England, etc., etc., etc.
"The Petition of the Grand Committee of the Grand Lodge in Boston, New England, whose names are hereunto subscribed, in behalf said Grand Lodge HUMBLY SHEWETH :
"That last September it pleased Almighty God to vacate Solomon's Chair by the death of our late Right Worshipful Grand Master, Jeremy Gridley, Esqr, upon which our Right Worshipful Brother Henry Price, Esqr, formerly Grand Master, Reassumed the Chair Pro tempore. And at the Grand Lodge or Quarterly Communication held at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston, January 22d, 5768, it was voted that a Petition should be drawn up and Presented to your Grace. Praying that all future Grand Masters should be deputed for three years only, with this Reservation; that notwithstanding, if the Lodge should see cause to continue the same Grand Master longer in the Chair, the said Deputation should continue, and remain in full force the said continued Term, and that he should remain Grand Master from the expiration of the Time of his first appointment or Continuance, to the Installment of another.
"We therefore humbly Solicit your Grace's Concurrence with the said vote, and Request your Deputation in favor of our Right Worshipful Brother John Rowe, Esqr, Past Deputy Grand Master, and now Grand Master Elect.
"And, Whereas Masonry in America originated in this Place Anno 5733, and in the year following, our then Grand Master Price received Orders from Grand Master Crawford to establish Masonry in all North America, in Pursuance of which the several Lodges hereafter mentioned have received Constitutions from us. We therefore crave due Precedency, and that in Order thereunto, Our Grand Master Elect may, in his Deputation, be styled Grand Master of all North America, and your Grace's Petitioners as in duty bound
"Shall ever Pray.
(Signed) HUGH MCDANIEL, past D.G.M.
ROBERT JENKINS, past D.G.M.
RICHARD GRIDLEY, present D.G.M.
JOHN Box, past S. G. W.
JOSEPH GARDNER, past S. G. W.
ARCHIBALD MCNEIL, present S. G. W.
JOHN CUTLER, present J. G. W.
SAMUEL FITCH, M. 2dL.
WILLIAM JACKSON, past W. 2d L.
" 2 d Lodge or No. 2, in Boston, Constituted Feb. 15th, 1749, meets the 3d Wednesday in every month at the British Coffee House, on King Street.
"New Haven Lodge, in Connecticut, Constituted in November, 1750, kept at the Golden Lion in that Town.
"Providence Lodge, in Rhode Island Government, Constituted Jan. 18th, 1757, meets the first and third Wednesday of every month.
"Marblehead Lodge in this Government, Constituted March 25th, 1760."
The following letter from the Right Worshipful Brother Henry Price accompanied the foregoing petition: —
"BOSTON, NEW ENGLAND, Jan. 27th, 1768.
"Right Worshipful Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master, Grand Wardens and Brethren in Grand Lodge Assembled: —
"The money now sent to you is for the Constitution of four Lodges in America, which I pray may be Registered in the Grand Lodge Books; the money would have been paid long before, but some unforeseen accidents prevented; therefore I hope the said Lodges will not be denied their Rank among the Lodges, according to the Time of their Constitution, notwithstanding the above Omission. For the particulars concerning them, I must refer you to the Letter from the Grand Committee of the Grand Lodge here, which goes by the same hand that presents this to you. Several other Lodges have been Constituted by the Grand Lodge here in different parts of America, who have not yet Transmitted to us the Stated Fees for their Constitution; but as soon as it comes to hand, it shall be remitted to you, hoping at the same Time that they will likewise be Registered among the Regularly Constituted Lodges.
"RT WORSHIPFUL BROTHERS: — I had the Honour to be appointed Provincial Grand Master of New England, by the Rt Honble and Rt Worshipful Lord Anthony Browne, Viscount Montacute, in the year 1733, and in the year 1735, said Commission to me was extended over all North America by the Rt Honble and Rt Worshipful John Lindsay, Earl of Crawford, then Grand Master of Masons; but, upon inquiry, I find that said Deputations were never Registered, though I myself paid three Guineas therefor to Thomas Batson, Esqr, then Deputy Grand Master, who, with the Grand Wardens then in being, signed my said Deputation.
"This Deputation was the first that the Grand Lodge ever issued to any Part of America, and stands so now in all Lodges on the Continent. Other Deputations have since been given to different Provinces; but they cannot, according to Rule, take Rank of mine.
"So, I would submit it to your Wisdom and Justice whether said Deputations should not be Registered in their proper Place, without any further Consideration therefor, and the Grand Lodge here have Rank according to Date, as it has (by Virtue of said Deputations) been the foundation of Masonry in America, and I the Founder.
"Wherefore, Rt Worshipful Brethren, I beg that inquiry may be made into the Premises, and that Things may be set right, is the Earnest Request of your much honored, and
And very humble Servant,
"P.S. Rt Worshipful. I herewith send you an Attested Copy of my said Deputation, as Registered in the Grand Lodge Book of this Place, under the Hand of our Grand Secretary, whose Signature you may depend upon as Genuine.
" H . P."
The foregoing petition and letter being committed to the care of Brother William Jackson, one of the Grand Committee who was bound to England, it was thought expedient (upon his request) to give him a letter of recommendation, a copy of which, dated January 22, 1768, is set out in the record, signed by Henry Price G. M., Deputy Grand Master Gridley and the Grand Wardens. This letter refers the Grand Master and Brethren to Brother Jackson "for a particular account of the Propagation of Masonry in America." Thus recommended, Brother William Jackson, bearer of important despatches, sailed for England.
Of the above-named Brethren composing the Grand Committee, Hugh McDaniel, the Chairman, was, says Whitman in his history of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston, of which McDaniel, in 1750, was Captain, — " a very active, benevolent, and intelligent man, much respected for his integrity and virtues." He was a member of Christ's Church, Boston, and in 1739-40 one of its Wardens. He was made a Mason in the First Lodge, January 30, 1735, less than eighteen months after the organization of the Grand Lodge by Price. June, 1736, he was elected Senior Warden of the First Lodge, which constituted him a member of the Grand Lodge over which Price then presided; he continued to represent that Lodge as Warden or Master until 1744, when he was appointed Deputy Grand Master. Thus he must have been thoroughly informed of the early history of Masonry in New England and of the Provincial Grand Lodge. His statements, made in the communication of the committee, are in accordance with the record, and if not made from memory, were verified by reference to the record. That he had ample time for this purpose is evident from the fact that the petition was not drawn up until the 25th of January, three day^s after the meeting of the Grand Lodge empowering the committee to act. The letter of Price has been criticised because of two misstatements it contains: first, in calling Lord Montague, Montacute; second, in assigning the year 1735 for the extension of Powers by Crawford. The first mistake we need not be surprised at. Entick had then been published, and he gave Montacute and not Montague. Almost every Masonic authority followed the spelling of Entick, and as Price was not a man of letters, it is not surprising that he fell into a mistake, concerning which there might have been discussion here in Boston. The printed book of Constitutions by the Reverend Bro. Entick to such a man, and in those days, would have settled the question absolutely.
The second misstatement is to be accounted for upon the lapse of time from 1734 to 1768, and the forgetfulness of Price. He then lived at Townsend. All his books, papers, and documents were there. The letter was dated at Boston, and he stated from memory, after a lapse of thirty-four years, the date when Crawford extended his Deputation over North America. He was at that time seventy-one years of age, and in looking back over the eventful period, he fails to fix the exact year ; he makes a mistake of one year. The petition which the letter accompanies, states the name of Lord Montague correctly, and gives the year 1734 accurately. It seems frivolous to lay any stress upon these misstatements, considering the time and circumstances under which they were made. When Jackson reached London, the Grand Lodge not only had the correct statement as made by the Grand Committee before them, but the discrepancies between the petition and the letter of Price. Their attention was then called directly to the differences between the two documents. If the argument of the accusers of Price has any weight, it shows that the conclusion which the Grand Lodge finally came to, in favor of the genuineness of Price's original Deputation and its extension, must have been arrived at in spite of these discrepancies, and upon evidence which convinced the Grand Officers at London beyond all doubt. The argument which is now brought against Price was made patent to the Grand Lodge of England more than one hundred years ago. The Deputation to Rowe in its recitals corrects the mistakes in Price's communications, and conforms with the truth. There was no concealment, no secrecy, either by Price or by the Grand Committee. Price wrote his letter in haste, without the presence of his papers and Deputations to prompt his fading memory, and returned to his home forty-six miles from Boston, and the committee, probably seeing his mistakes, after Price had left, considered them of such little consequence as not worth the trouble to correct, by sending the letter to Townsend for that purpose. During the absence of Jackson, Price presided as Grand Master at the Festival of Saint John the Baptist. Upon the arrival of Jackson he laid his letter of recommendation and the documents with which he was entrusted, before the Grand Lodge. They were carefully examined, and Jackson, without doubt, was fully interrogated concerning the "propagation of Masonry in America," of which he gave "a particular account." The Right Hon. Lord Viscount Dudley and Ward, who, as Grand Master, granted the Deputation to Oxnard, in 1743, was present at a Grand Lodge held in May, 1768, and at nearly every Grand Lodge held thereafter, until 1773. Lord Caernarvan, who, as Grand Master, commissioned Gridley in 1755 to succeed Oxnard, was present at a Grand Lodge held in 1769, and at succeeding meetings of the Grand Lodge. As late as 1772, Manningham, Deputy Grand Master in 1755, under the Marquis Caernarvan, when Gridley was appointed, was present at a meeting of the Grand Lodge. Thus it is apparent that at this time those were living who knew of the history of affairs in New England, and who could give full and satisfactory information in relation to the Deputations granted to Brethren in America. If any want of information or doubt existed, these distinguished Past Grand Officers were undoubtedly consulted.
After a thorough and careful investigation, the Deputation to John Rowe was granted, and entrusted to Jackson. With it he sailed from England, and arrived at Boston September 30, 1768. The Commission to Rowe is dated May 12, 1768.
As an instance of the inaccurate manner in which financial matters were conducted at this time, note that the money which Jackson carried to London, £8. 8s. 0d., for the constitution of Lodges numbered 141, 142, 143 and 224, was not credited upon the Grand Lodge Books until October 28, 1768, long after Jackson had arrived at Boston. Jackson paid this money into the hands of the Grand Secretary in May, 1768.
Rowe was installed by Grand Master Price, Wednesday, November 23, 1768. This installment far surpassed anything of the kind before undertaken, and, as the record states, after devoting many pages to it, "the like hath never been seen in America." At the dinner provided on this occasion, one hundred and forty-eight were present. It is observable that of this number but five are honored with the title of Esquire, viz.: —
It is certain that each of these gentlemen held commissions as Justices of the Peace, with the exception of Price, and it is not known whether he was so commissioned or not. About 1756 he began to be called Esquire, and ever after he had this addition to his name in legal instruments and documents. When he was a member of the Provincial Legislature, he was called Esquire, in the printed list of members, although there were many members designated only as Mr. The title of Esquire was not given in those days as matter of course. It was confined to a limited number, and when given, it was for the reason that the recipient was legally entitled to the honorable designation. The commission of Justice, to preserve His Majesty's peace, was not by any means generally bestowed, even upon prominent citizens of the Province, and gentlemen entrusted with this commission became not only entitled Esquire, but were also members of the Court of Sessions in their respective counties. Upon the Bench of this Court all the Justices of the Peace within the County sat, accompanied by juries, to try certain classes of criminal and civil causes, and with a jurisdiction similar to, but more extended than, the Court of County Commissioners existing at the present day in Massachusetts. Thus this commision gave political prominence, judicial character, and dignity to gentlemen selected by the Governor and Council for the office of Justice of the Peace, and it also gave the honorable title of Esquire. It is not to be presumed that this designation was so universally given to Henry Price, after 1756, unless he was lawfully authorized to assume it.
The sermon upon the occasion of Rowe's installment was preached by Rev. Br. Bass, of Newburyport, in Trinity Church, "from the words in Saint John's Gospel: The disciple whom Jesus loved." It was afterwards delivered before Saint John's Lodge, at Newburyport, and published in 1780. The address of Grand Master Price, upon leaving the chair, is in the Appendix.
The Deputation of Rowe contains a complete and thorough vindication of Price. It commences thus: "Know ye, that We of the great Trust and Confidence reposed in our Right Worshipful and well-beloved Brother, Henry Price, Esqr., of North America, Constituted Provincial Grand Master for North America, by Viscount Montague, Grand Master, April 13th, 1733," etc., etc., etc. It is a full recognition of Grand Master Price, in affectionate and fraternal language, and, although in some of its statements it is in error, nevertheless, in the principal matter of confirmation by official act of the Deputation to Price by Viscount Montague, it sets at rest the dispute. Here is an adjudication by a tribunal having full and final jurisdiction. From it there is no appeal. The question was settled after thorough examination, and no one can doubt the correctness and justice of the decision. The Grand Lodge Archives, perhaps, and undoubtedly living witnesses, furnished a mass of evidence which was irresistible, and these led the Grand Master freely to express the great trust and confidence which he reposed in his well-beloved Brother, Henry Price.
Thus was Price publicly and officially acknowledged by the Grand Master of England, upon what precise evidence and investigation we know not. If a tithe of what is presented here had been known, Price would have been acknowledged before any tribunal in the world. Other letters were written to England by Price, copies of which are appended. They do not appear in the records, but are preserved in our archives. By these it appears that Price claimed that he had never resigned as Grand Master over North America. This claim was undoubtedly fallacious, although made in good faith by Price. Oxnard and Gridley both succeeded to his position. It is also extremely doubtful whether the regulations in the "printed book of Constitutions" applied to a Provincial Grand Master, although they seem to have been considered as applicable to this officer, not only in Boston, but at London. This, however, has nothing to do with the question we are considering. All parties acted honestly in the view taken, and if they were mistaken in the law, it was honestly entertained.
After the installation of Rowe, Brother Price attended thirteen quarterly meetings of the Grand Lodge, notwithstanding he resided forty-six miles from Boston. April 28, 1769, Brother Price laid before the Grand Lodge a letter and sundry other papers which he had received from the Grand Secretary in England, which were referred to a committee. At a Grand Lodge held Friday, January 26, 1770, — "On a motion that some relief be granted to Bror . . . . to clear him entirely from his debts, which amount to about Twenty Pounds Lawful money, the Rt Worshipful Bro. Price generously offered to pay Five Pounds Lawful money towards the discharge of said Twenty Pounds, which was gratefully accepted by the Grand Lodge," etc., etc.
At this meeting, which was the "annual season" for the choice of Grand Officers, Grand Master Rowe was absent, and Brother Richard Gridley was appointed to serve in the office of Deputy Grand Master for the ensuing year, " by the Rt. Worshipful Bro. Henry Price, Esq., then in the Lodge." On the thirtieth of April, 1773, Brother Price presided over the quarterly meeting of the Grand Lodge held at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern.
The last meeting of the Grand Lodge attended by Past Grand Master Price was January 28, 1774, when Grand Master Rowe summoned all the members in order to lay before them his plan for a charity fund. This plan is minutely described, and is the foundation of our present charity fund. There were but three meetings held after this prior to the siege of Boston, when the Communications of the Grand Lodge were suspended.
About the time the Deputation to Rowe was granted, the name of Brother Henry Price as Provincial Grand Master for North America appeared in the English Calendar, and there it remained, annually printed at the head of the list of foreign appointments until 1804, twenty-four years after his decease. That the Grand Secretary in London had information of his death years before his name disappeared from the Calendar, there is evidence.* Why it was persistently kept there during these thirty-six years has never been explained. The only explanation which presents itself is this, that the Grand Officers were determined to repair the injury which had been done to the fame of Henry Price, in the neglect which had befallen the promulgation of his appointment of Provincial Grand Master, and that they purposely retained his name upon the Official Calendar for thirty-six years, a period of time equal to that which had elapsed from the time of his appointment in 1733, to the date of his recognition in 1768.
Our archives contain the printed circulars of the Grand Lodge of England, issued during several years, after 1868, addressed by the Grand Secretary at London, to "Henry Price, Esq., Provincial Grand Master of North America." It is singular that Rowe's name does not appear in the English Calendar as Provincial Grand Master, but that instead thereof Price's name appears. We have no communications in our archives addressed to Rowe as Provincial Grand Master from London. The English Register of Lodges, as published in 1805, has the following in its list: —
- "No. 39, 1733. —Royal Exchange, Boston, in New England, 2d and 4th Saturday.
- "No. 81, 1749. —Second Lodge, Boston, N. England, Br. Coffee h. King St., 3 Wednesday.
- "No. 83, 1750. —Marblehead Lodge, in Massachusetts Bay, New England.
- "No. 85, 1750. —New Haven Lodge, in Connecticut, New England.
- "No. 130, 1757. —Providence Lodge, in Rhode Island."
- See correspondence between Prince Hall and the Grand Secretary of England in the Appendix hereto.
The name of Price does not appear as Provincial Grand Master in the Register of 1805, nor after 1804.
Our society conducts its affairs very differently now from what it did formerly. Prior to 1776 the Grand Lodge of England had no apartments of its own. Its meetings were held in taverns and halls, while the Grand Secretary's office followed the calling of that officer, and the papers, archives and records intrusted to him were liable to loss, decay and mutilation. They were undoubtedly preserved as well as possible, considering the fact that they followed the person of the Grand Secretary, and were subject to such care and supervision as he bestowed upon his own papers and documents, in his own office.
The same was true cf the Grand Secretary's office here. It was at the house of that officer, or at his place of business, as was most convenient, and the papers and archives were packed away in a box or trunk, rarely opened. The Provincial Grand Lodge met at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern, the Royal Exchange, at Concert Hall, or at such other place as was most convenient, and had no hall or home to resort to. Under these circumstances, we are indeed fortunate in finding any of our original papers preserved.
In the inquiry we are making, it is necessary to keep in mind the great difference between the systematic manner in which our affairs are now conducted, and the loose, unmethodical way in which Masonry was carried on duing the last century, especially between 1733 and 1770. We must not look back from the stand-point we occupy today, with our Temple luxuriously furnished, the Grand Secretary's office devoted entirely and exclusively to the duties of the Grand Lodge, our archives carefully preserved in fire-proof vaults, and full records, minutes and files preserved of every transaction connected with the Grand Lodge. Our society of the last century was like some of the societies of this day, which meet from place to place as occasion requires, transporting their papers and records to each place of meeting, and having no local identification or place of general business. Wherever the Secretary is, either in counting-room, office or store, there is the society.
There was not business sufficient in those times to require the exclusive attention of a Secretary, and so that officer mingled Masonic instruments with his briefs and legal documents in Doctor's Common, if he chanced to be a proctor there, and conducted the Grand Lodge affairs rarely and at intervals in connection with his daily avocations. As late as 1805 the Grand Secretary advertised that he would attend at Freemason's Hall, London, on the business of the Society, on Tuesday and Saturday evenings. That any documents have been preserved, and have come down to our time, is matter for congratulation. That many have been lost, mislaid and destroyed, we need not wonder. That no record of the Price Deputation can now be found, is not at all remarkable. We know not how many others granted in those times have been forgotten, and all traces of them lost forever.
Within a very recent period, not ten years since, a box of papers, formerly belonging to Henry Price, was disposed of, for a few cents per pound avoirdupois, as old and worthless waste paper. How much historical value they possessed, what loss to our Grand Lodge, may be conjectured. Among these unexamined papers may have been the official Deputation granted by Montague, or, if not the document itself, written evidence of its existence.
It would seem, however, from the evidence now produced, that no one could reasonably doubt that the officers and members of the Grand Lodge at London were fully informed of the proceedings of Henry Price, in Boston, who publicly claimed to be the authorized delegate and representative of that Grand Body here; that from 1733, down to the war of the Revolution, they were as familiar with his doings as with those of their Provincial Grand Masters in the several districts of England. It cannot even be argued with any degree of plausibility, that they, or the Craft in general, could be ignorant of his pretensions, acts and doings. If they had knowledge of his claim to a Deputation from England, as Provincial Grand Master, or if it is apparent that they ought reasonably to have known it, the conclusion is irresistible that Price held the Commission and office, which he publicly professed to have, under which he openly acted, and which were notoriously throughout America ascribed to him. From all the Grand Officers at London, as well as from all the Members of the Fraternity, from 1733 to 1780, there was universal, undoubted belief in Henry Price, as. the legitimate founder, under lawful authority, of Masonry in America. Not a doubt, suspicion, or insinuation were breathed against him. He was entirely, unconditionally, absolutely confided in, upon both sides of the Atlantic. During all the years of his Masonic life he enjoyed the fullest confidence of the Grand Lodge at London. It would seem to be too late now to originate doubt and suspicion, against a man of pure character, unsullied name, and spotless reputation, after the lapse of one hundred and thirty eight years, unless the clearest evidence and undeniable proofs of the charges made are adduced. Suspicion and suspicious circumstances are not sufficient to weigh down his more than eighty years of life, characterized by honesty, integrity and Christian virtue.
In reviewing the life of Henry Price, we cannot escape the impression that the Ancient Society of Free and Accepted Masons, through his persistent labor, emerged from a position of comparative insignificance to one of prominence and great respectability in the Province. When he opened the Provincial Grand Lodge at Boston, in July, 1733, the Brethren whom he called around him, with the exception of Andrew Belcher, occupied humble places in life, and were not calculated to extend the influence of the Society, nor to make proselytes from among the best men of Boston. But Henry Price set his standard high. He was ambitious that the institution should be known by the good character of its members, and that it should be represented by able and respectable officers. He retained the office of Provincial Grand Master only so long as it was necessary to carry out his cherished scheme. All of his successors were gentlemen of the highest respectability and character, while those who had become members of the Lodges gave to the Society a position which commanded the respect of all classes of men. The reverend clergy gave to it their sanction, and aided by the sacred rites of their office, in their churches, the public demonstrations which from time to time occurred. The press spoke in terms of respect of "that ancient Society, whose benevolent constitutions do honor to mankind," and of the distinction conferred upon those called to preside as Grand Master over its proceedings. Thus the institution won its way to favor in public estimation. When Price installed his successors, each one with more ceremony and pomp than that of the preceding one, he saw that the honor which he claimed, of being the "Father of Masonry in America," was not an empty honor, but one which in his day was worthy of pride, and which he well hoped might be ascribed to him in history.
He had been successful beyond his fondest anticipations. Wealth, political and social distinction, the high authorities in the Province, the teachers of Christian virtue and the leaders in the two great parties of loyalty and liberty, had bowed before the altar of Freemasonry erected by him. Thus he had accomplished all that he dared to dream of in the early days of his labor.
It can scarcely seem possible that a man imbued with such a spirit, actuated by the highest ambition, animated by the most generous impulses, who placed himself second in the object he had in view, and the good, success, and prosperity, of the Society in which he was laboring, first and foremost, could be the corrupt, base and wicked man, the foresworn, hypocritical and covinous Brother, which his accusers declare him. The proofs of the honesty of Henry Price, and the genuineness of the Deputation which it is alleged he received from Lord Montague, have now been submitted to you. If the inquiry had been conducted before a legal forum, we should have stopped immediately upon showing that Price acted in the official capacity for which he claimed to have authority, and the burden of proof would have been upon his accusers to show that he had no such Deputation as it is alleged that he possessed. The Common Law, as well as the Civil Law, presumes against fraud, Odiosa et inhonesta non sunt in lege presumenda, et in facto quod in se habet et bonum et malum, magis de bono quam de malo prsesumendum est. There is another maxim of the law : Omnia prsesumuntur rite et solemniter esse acta, donee probetur in contrarium, — "Thus it will be presumed that a man who has acted in a public office or situation was duly appointed."
The law also provides for the proof of transactions which have occurred in ancient times. Historical facts of general and public notoriety may be proved by reputation. Evidence of reputation upon general points is receivable, because, all mankind being interested in them, it is natural to suppose that they may be conversant with the subjects, and they should discourse together about them, all having the same means of information. "No man can keep his witnesses alive, and time weareth out all men." Hence the legal maxim, Diuturnitate temporis omnia prassumuntur solemniter esse acta.
But this inquiry is not conducted before a legal tribunal, which would settle this question upon the mere statement of the case, but it is presented before another forum, where every doubt will be carefully weighed, every suspicious circumstance examined, every accusation investigated. It is to the forum of historical truth that the fair fame and reputation of our First Grand Master, Henry Price, come for trial, and demand justice, strict, rigid, impartial justice. His whole life, so far as it can be discovered, has been exposed. His Masonic career in this country has been described from 1733 to 1774, during a period of almost half a century. His reputation as a man and Mason, among his own Brethren, friends and acquaintances, without a stain or blemish to tarnish its lustre, is submitted to the candid judgment of the Fraternity, and the impartial consideration of the inquirer after truth.
"It is God's Decree that every one shall die. Death is his messenger to enforce his law; nor will he let any of us carry away from hence any mark of human pride, treasures or honors, or any proof of our earthly consequence, but a good conscience, obtained from a well-spent life; from whence reflects the most brilliant legacy we can leave our friends in this world, — a good name."
At the time of the installation, Price was seventy-one years of age. Tomlinson, Oxnard and Gridley, each of whom he had inducted into the office of Grand Master, had departed this life. The memory of his own domestic afflictions was fresh before him. His age admonished him that he must soon follow those who had gone before him, and as he reflected upon the years which had passed since 1733, when he founded Masonry in America, the honors which had accumulated upon him, the possessions which had rewarded his toil, he was deeply impressed with the vanity of all earthly grandeur and consequence, when compared with a good conscience, and a good name, the reward of a well spent life. This treasure he prized above silver, — this was more precious than gold.Finally the time came when the certainty of death was apparent. As he marshalled in array before him all the acts of his life as a man, as a Mason and as a Christian, his quick, sensitive conscience, void of offence towards God and man, upbraided him not. He had been just in his dealings, charitable and kind to the poor, forgiving those who needed forgiveness, and honest with all mankind. He could carry nothing with him to the undiscovered country whither he was hastening, save the good conscience which he had obtained from a well-spent life of over fourscore years. And among all the possessions which he left, as he breathed his last, large and valuable as he esteemed them, the most brilliant legacy he could bequeath his friends was "a good name." This he left behind him to his Brethren. We are his legatees. In this brilliant legacy, every true Mason the world over is a participant. Let us of America, at least, carefully preserve and transmit it unsullied to our successors, from generation to generation. Let us not fritter it away in vain doubts, or unworthy suspicions, nor cast it aside as undeserving our regard. If it is attacked, let us manfully, courageously wage war in its defence. Let us watch over, guard and protect it, and prove ourselves worthy of the inheritance which was bequeathed to us by our First Grand Master, [Henry Price.