The Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania

Grand Lodge of the Month - May 2011

Right Worshipful Brother Thomas K. Sturgeon, Grand Master

Seal of the Grand Lodge of PennsylvaniaOn June 5, 1730, the Duke of Norfolk, then the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England (Moderns), deputized Colonel Daniel Coxe of New Jersey to be “the Provincial Grand Master of the Provinces of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.” His deputation took effect June 24, 1730 and extended to June 24, 1732. The deputation authorized Brother Coxe to appoint his officers, so it makes sense that Coxe appointed William Allen as Grand Master. Allen was then elected Grand Master, as recorded in the Pennsylvania Gazette, June 19-26, 1732, the election taking place on St. John the Baptist's Day, 1732. Allen appointed William Pringle, Deputy Grand Master, and Thomas Boude and Benjamin Franklin, Wardens. Benjamin Franklin would become Grand Master in 1734, the same year he published Anderson's Constitutions, the first Masonic book printed in America.

By September 5, 1749 (during Franklin’s second term as Grand Master), some Brethren of this Grand Lodge, feeling that their self-constituted Grand Lodge lacked the authority it formerly possessed, made an appeal to the Masonic authorities in London for the appointment of a Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvania. The Grand Master of England (Moderns), William Lord Baron of Rochdale in the County of Lancaster, appointed William Allen, thus marking the end of the first independent Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and its inception as a Provincial Grand Lodge affiliated with and deriving its authority from the Grand Lodge of England (Moderns).

On February 13, 1760, the Members of Lodge No. 1, (Ancients) in Philadelphia, balloted for a Provincial Grand Master, and William Ball, a wealthy landowner in the Province, was elected. Following Ball’s election, application was made by the Members of Lodge No. 1 to the Grand Lodge (Ancients) in London for a Provincial Grand Warrant for Pennsylvania. A warrant signed by Grand Secretary Laurence Dermott, bearing the date of July 15, 1761, for the Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania (Ancients) was issued.
Whereas the original Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania (Moderns) had been very conservative and relatively inactive, the new Grand Lodge of the Ancients was progressive and active. Whereas the Modern Grand Lodge never had more than four constituent lodges on its rolls, the Ancients' Grand Lodge granted warrants to sixteen lodges and during the Revolution warranted seven more. Indeed the war intensified the rivalry and considerable friction between Ancients and Moderns in Pennsylvania, because the Modern lodges, to a great extent, were Loyalists, while a large majority of the Ancients espoused independence. By the end of the war the “Moderns” Grand Lodge and its three subordinate lodges had died out. With the death of Brother Franklin, April 17, 1790 at age 84, “Modern” Masonry in Pennsylvania, for all practical purposes, ceased to exist. Thus, in 1813 when Modern and Ancients in Jurisdictions throughout the world began to be reconciled and united, no reconciliation was necessary in Pennsylvania. Therefore, the resulting ritualistic changes and compromises did not affect Pennsylvania Masons, who continued to work in the pure “Ancient” way, as “Ancient York Masons.” This appellation was changed to “Free and Accepted Masons” about 1872.

Among many illustrious Pennsylvania Masons are Major General and Pennsylvania Governor John Frederick Hartranft (1830-1889), who received his Masonic degrees in 1858, and Major General Winfield Scott Hancock (1824-1886), who received all three degrees by dispensation on October 31, 1860, were both members of Charity Lodge No. 190, Norristown. Golfer Arnold Palmer has been a member of Loyalhanna Lodge No. 275, Latrobe, since 1958. Pennsylvania’s sitting Grand Master Thomas K. Sturgeon, a member of the Board of the GW Memorial, is a member of Oakdale Lodge No. 669.

Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania
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