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A century of Free Masonry in Nantucket (Volume 2) online

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Organized May 9, 1894.
Incorporated July 9, 1894.

Vol. 3. Bulletin No. 1.









Collected set.


On April 30th, 1733, Right Worshipful Anthoney, Lord
Viscount Montague, Grand Master of Free & Accepted
Masons of England, commissioned Right Worshipful Henry
Price to be Provincial Grand Master of Masons of New Eng-
land, and authorized him to establish lodges in North America-
In accordance with that commission lodges were instituted,
the first one to be organized in America being St. John's
Lodge, of Boston. In succession Right Worshipful Grand
Master Price and his successors in office instituted, lodges at
Philadelphia (under the direction of our Worshipful Brother
Benjamin Franklin), at Portsmouth, N. H., Charleston, S. C.,
Antigua, B. W. I., Annapolis, N. S., Newfoundland, Newport,
R. I., Halifax, N. S., Maryland, New Haven, and New Lon-
don, Conn., and a score of other localities, the organizations
being in those days almost wholly limited to scacoast towns.
In Massachusetts there were organized under this authority,
Philanthropic Lodge, of Marblehead, in 1760; St. John's, of
Newburyport, in 1766 ; Tyrian, of Gloucester, in 1770 ; and
Union, of Nantucket, in 177 1 .

The petition for a charter for Union Lodge reads as fol-
lows : —

To the Right Worshipful John Rozue, Esq., Grand Master
Mason for North America : —

Right Worshipful Sir : — We, the Subscribers, being sen-
sible that it lies in our Power to Propagate that Ancient &
Honourable body of Free and Accepted Masons here in this
Place : And as we think it our indispensible Duty to use our
best Endeavours to Propagate so noble an Art with all the
Strictness and Regularity as becomes Members of a just and
perfect Lodge ; and Right Worshipful we are likewise sensible
that no one ought to come to any light or knowledge by any
Clandestine or unregular Method, that may tend to cast any
Disgrace upon the Fraternity, which we shall always be sorry
to hear of ; And we shall always use our best Endeavours to
promote so laudable a Society when it is established in due
form. And now Rt. Worshipful Sir, We desire and request

of your Worship that if it is consistant with your will and
pleasure that you would send us a Wan ant so that we may
have a just and perfect Lodge CoiTsecrattd here, so that when
any Candidates offer themselves, we may be able to deal with
them in due form — Right Worshipful our Motive is this, hist,
our Duty to our Maker; second, to our fellow men; thirdly,
to the Fraternity in general throughout the Globe ; and Sir we
won! ! acquaint your Worship that there is several that hath
offered themselves as Candidates thinking that we had power
to deal with them,& Men ol good Character. And now Right
Worshipful we would have you take the Matter into your
s :rious Consideration, and to act agreeable to the trust reposed
in you, and if your Worship thinks we are worthy of a Warrant
and will sen- 1 us one, we your worthy Brothers in Duty Bound
shall ever pray.

Nantucket, April 16, 177 1. Will'm Brock, M. M.,

Jos'h Dkniston,

P. S. — We would desire your Henry Smith,
Worship to send us an Answer William Worth,
as soon as is Convenient. Chris'r Hussey, F. C,


Respecting this petition the records give this report :

St. John's Grand Lodge,
Qiiirterly Communication, Bunch of Grapes Tavern, Boston,
Friday, April 26, 5771.
" The Lodge was informed from the Chair that a number of
Hrethren belonging to Nantucket had Petitioned for a War-
rant to hold a Lodge in that Place, and said Petition being
read, the Grand Master asked the Counsel of the Lodge, who
joined with him in Opinion that the Grand Secretary do
acquaint the Petitioners by Letter, that three Master Masons
are necessary to the Constituting of a New Lodge ; also with
the Expence attending the same ; and desire them to Nomi-
nate one of the Petitioners for their first Master."

In conformity to these implied instructions the following
letter was sent to the petitioning Brethren :

Boston, 27th April, 1771.
Sir : — At a Grand Lodge or Quarterly Communication held
at the Bunch of Grapes Tavern in Boston on Friday, the 26th
Instant, a Petition from a Number of Brethren dated at Nan-
tucket April 16th, 1771, requesting a Warrant to hold a Lodge
of Free and Accepted Masons in said Place was Read; And
after due Consideration thereon, the Grand Master with the
Advice of said Grand Lodge directed " that the Grand Secre-

" tary do acquaint the Petitioners by Letter that Three Master
" Masons are necessary to the constituting of a New Lodge ;
" also with the Expence attending the same ; And desire them
" to nominate one of the Petitioners for their first Master."

In Obedience to said Direction I take this Opportunity thro'
you Sir, to acquaint the said Petitioners with the Proceedings
of the Grand Lodge relative to their Petition, and inform you
that the Cost of a Deputation will be Three Guineas and an
half, to be paid on the delivery thereof. I likewise desire you
would let me know if there are Three Master Masons of your
Number : And who you think fit to Nominate as your first
Master. After I am made acquainted with these Particulars,
I presume the Grand Master will give Directions for a Depu-
tation to be made out with all convenient Dispatch.
Interim I remain, Sir,

Yours and the other Petitioners' Affectionate Brother
and very humble Servant,

Tho: Brown, Gr. Sec'y.
Mr. Ciiristo. Hussey,

at Nantucket.

There is no record to show just what reply was made to the
letter of the Grand Secretary, but it is evident there were at
least the requisite number of Master Masons, that the fee was
forthcoming and that Worshipful Brother Captain William
Brock was nominated as their first Master, for with commend-
able celerity a Charter was issued, of which the following is a
copy :

[Seal.] John Rowe, G. M.

To all and Every our Right Worshipful and Loving Breth-
ren, Free and Accepted Masons now residing or that may
hereafter Reside in Sherburne in the County of Nantucket
in the Province of the Massachusetts Bay in New England.
We John Rowe Esquire, Provincial Grand Master of the
Antient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Ma-
sons for all North America, where no other Grand Master is

Send Greeting.

Whereas Application hath been made unto us by several
Brethren Free and Accepted Masons now residing at Sher-
burne aforesaid ; setting forth that they think it their indis-
pensable Duty to propagate the Royal Art with all the
Strictness and Regularity that becomes Masons of a just and
perfect Lodge ; that they shall always use their best Endeav-

ours to promote so laudable a Society when it is Established
in due form : Therefore Pray that we would Constitute them
into a Regular Lodge, and appoint our Brother Captain Will-
iam Brock to be their first Master.


That We of the Great Trust, Tower and Authority, reposed
in us by His Grace the Most Worshipful Henry Somerset,
Duke ol Beaufort, &c, Grand Master oi Masons, have Con-
stituted and Appointed our Right Worshipful and well beloved
Brother Captain William Brock to be the first Master of the
Lodge at Sherburne aforesaid, and do hereby impower him to
Congregate the Brethren together, and form them into a Reg-
ular Lodge, he taking special Care that all and every Member
thereof, and all transient Persons admitted therein have been,
or shall be regular made Masons. And that he appoint two
Wardens and other Officers to a Lodge Appertaining, for the
due Regulation of said Lodge for One Year: at the end of
which he shall Nominate a new Master to be approved by the
Lodge, at least two-thirds of the Members in his favour, and
and said new Master shall Nominate and Appoint two Wardens
and a Secretary for the ensuing Year, also a Treasurer, who
must have the Votes of two thirds of the Members in his
favour; and so the same Course Annually. And we do
hereby civic to said Lodge all the Privileges and Authority
of other Regular Lodges ; Requiring them to observe all and
every of the Regulations contained in the Printed Rook of
Constitutions (except such as may have been, or may be
Repealed at any Quarterly Communication or other General
Meeting of the Grand Lodge in London,) to be kept and ob-
served, as also such other Rules and Instructions as may from
Time to Time be transmitted to them by Us, or our Deputy,
or Successors to either for the Time being: And that
they do Annually send an Account in Writing to Us, or our
I >eputy, or Successors to either of Us for the Time being, of
the Names of the Members of said Lodge, and their Place of
Abode, with the Days and Place of Meeting, with any other
things they may think proper to Communicate for the benefit
of Masonry ; And that they do Annually keep the Feast of
St. John the Baptist, or St. John the Evangelist, or both, and
Dine together on said Day or Days, or as near either of them
as shall be most convenient ; And lastly, that they do Regu-
larly Communicate with the Grand Lodge in Boston, by
sending to the Quarterly Communication such Charity as their
Lodge shall think fit, for the Relief of Poor Brethren, with the
Names of those that Contributed the same, that in case any
such may come to want Relief, they may have the preference
to others.

Given under Our Hand and Seal of Masonry at Boston
the 27th Day of May, a: d. 1771, and of Masonry 5771,

Rich'd Gridley, D. G. M.,
Jno. Cutler, S. G. W.,
Abr'm Savage, J. G. W.
By the Grand Master's Command,

Tho: Brown, Gr. Sec'y.

The record of the first communication of Union Lodge is of
interest in this connection. It reads as follows :

" Nantucket, New England, May 9, in the Year 1771.
In our Lodge duly formed

Brother William Brock, Master,

" Joseph Dennison, Senior Warden,
" Henry Smith, Junior Warden.*

Proceeded as follows : .

Initiated Bro. Nathaniel Coffin,
" Tristram Barnard,
" Andrew Worth."

The next meeting on record was held on the 15th of August
following. At that time Brothers Samuel Barrett and George
Ramsdell were initiated. In the interim between the two
meetings the Charter probably had been received. The re-
quirement of three Master Masons by the Most Worshipful
Grand Lodge had been met in the persons of Worshipful
Brothers William Brock, who served as Worshipful Master for
the first year ; Brother Joseph Dennison, who was the first
Senior Warden ; and Brother Henry Smith, who was the first
Junior Warden. Who the other officers were does not appear
from the records, nor is there any known way to ascertain
their names.

On receipt of its Charter the Lodge was fairly launched on
its career of usefulness. Besides the three already named, the
following named Brethren appear on record as Charter Mem-
bers : Nathaniel Coffin, Tristram Barnard, Andrew Worth,

* There is a striking instance of Masonic heredity in the family of
Bro. Smith, who received his Degrees in Wapping Arms Lodge in Eng-
land in 1756. His son, Francis, became a member of Urbanity Lodge;
his grandson, Francis, was an honored member of Union Lodge, and his
great grandson, Charles F., has recently received his Degrees in Monitor
Lodge, Waltham.


Samuel Barrett, George Ramsdell, Joseph Coffin, Jeremiah
Buckman, Christopher Hussey/ Joshua Bunker, Jethro H us.
sey, Seth Jenkins, Joseph Hussey, John Sherman, George
Calder, Paul Hussey, Thomas Worth, Nathaniel Rand, Shu-
bael Worth, Shubael Folger, Nathaniel Barrett and William

The question naturally arises, where were the first three
Brethren made Masons? As to Bro. Henry Smith, the first
Junior Warden, the diploma now hanging on the walls of the
Lodge room, an invaluable memento of the one to whom it
was issued, shows that he was made a Mason at a Lodge held
at the Dundee Arms, Wapping, London, England, March 15,
1762.* Concerning Worshipful Brother Brock and Bro. Den-
nison, I have as yet been unable to get any information, but it
is probable that they received their degrees either in England
or in a Lodge in some seaport town where a Lodge had been
established, and where they had been on business. The cus-
tom of the day allowed extraordinary latitude in this respect,
and the rigid rules regarding jurisdictions which have long
prevailed, were of little or no force then, and we find that
sojourning citizens from various parts of the country received
their Degrees at the hands of the Brethren of Union Lodge in
its early days.t

The first codes of By-Laws of the Lodge, like those of many
other Lodges of the day, were, in some particulars, quite
unique. That there might be no excuse for any Brother's
coming home to his wife and family at midnight and attribut-
ing his late hours to a protracted Lodge meeting, this article
was adopted : —

"Article III. — As nothing has a greater tendency to
bring the Craft into disrepute than keeping late hours on Lodge
nights, the Master shall be acquainted by the S. W. when it is

* There is a record (See Proceedings of Gr. Lodge of Massachu-
setts, 1733 to 1792, p. 423), that a Timothy Folger was present at the
Feast of St. John the Baptist at the " King's Arms," Boston, with St.
John's Grand Lodge in 1769. It is probable it was Timothy of Nan-
tucket. The custom of many Lodges in those days often was to open
and transact general business on the Entered Apprentice Degree.

tBrothers Elisha Smith and William Coffin were Raised in South
Carolina; and Brothers Joseph Coffin ; and Christopher Worth were
Initiated Entered Apprentices in the same State.

ten o'clock from the first Monday in March to the first Mon-
dy in September ; and when it is Nine o'clock from the first
Mondy in September to the first Mondy in March, who shall
immediately proceed to Close the Lodge ; and every Brother
shall forthwith leave the Lodge Room — It is hoped and ex-
pected that no Member will offend against this Law, calculated
to secure the Honour and Reputation of this Lodge, to pre-
vent uneasiness to our relatives & to preserve the Oconomy
of Our Families."

Article VII. demanded and commanded that every Brother
should practice out of the Lodge those great moral and social
virtues inculcated in it, and provided that

" Whereas, it is found expedient for the good order and
decorum of this Lodge, that every Member belonging thereto,
not only behave themselves upright and on the square in the
Lodge, but also conduct themselves out of the Lodge as be-
comes a good man and a Christian, Therefore if any Member
bel nging to this Lodge, shall hereafter so behave himself, as
to bring scandel, or disrepi tation on the Craft, by leading a
loose and disorderly life ; such Member so offending, shall be
waited on by a Committee, to be appointed by the Lodge for
that purpose, who shall treat with him concerning his miscon-
duct ; and if he will not satisfy said committee, they shall in-
form him that he is to be admonished by the Master &
Wardens in a Lodge duly formed ; which admonition shall be
repeated three times ; and if he will not refrain his impru-
dence, he shall be excluded the Lodge untill he makes due
submission. 7 '

Article XVIII. was also of a disciplinary character, and was
as follows :

" That no Brother do presume to Swear in the Lodge or on
any account call for wine or other liquors, but address himself
to the stewards or wardens, who, if they think it necessary,
will give their orders accordingly. That all Brethren do be-
have themselves with decency to each other, and respect to
the Master in the chair and presiding officers ; and in case of
default in either of these particulars, the Brother so offending
shall forfeit the sum of two shillings to the fund of the

* By-law V. provides that where not exceeding- three black balls were
cast, when balloting for a candidate, those casting them should inform
the Investigating Committee so that the differences might be adjusted.
If they failed to inform the Committee the ballot was declared unani-


By the Charter it was obligatory on the Lodge to set aside
a sum for charity, and on Oct,/, 1771, it was "Voted that
each member of this Society shall pay one shilling Lawfull
Money into the Fund of Charity at every Quarterly Commu-
nication." Votes relative to this matter of the Charity Fund
wire quite frequently passed.

October 19, 1772, the Lodge petitioned the Most Worship-
ful Grand Lodge to be registered on the Grand Lodge books by
the name of Union Lodge No. 5, and at the Quarterly Commu-
nication of January 29, 1773, the Grand Lodge " Voted Unani-
mously that the Prayer of said Petition be granted."

At the Quarterly Communication of the Most Worshipful
Grand Lodge in April of the same year, a letter was read from
Union Lodge by its Secretary, Brother Phineas Fanning,* in
response to a request of the Grand Lodge for contributions to
aid a Brother whose property had been destroyed by hie.
Brother Fanning's letter said, in part :

" The Remoteness of our Situation on an Island, & the Dif-
ficulty of passing in Winter, we hope will be accepted as a
sufficient Excuse for Non-attendance at the Grand Lodge
according to Summons.

Our Lodge is yet in its Infancy, the Members chiefly sea-
men, and none of us blessed with a Fortune, our Lodge a^> yet
not properly settled, furnished &c &c Insomuch that it is out
of our Power (at present) to transmit anything to the Grand
Fund, but humbly hope that Maturity and the united Efforts
ol our greatest Abilities will, in a short Time enable us liber
ally to contribute thereto.

The calamitous Circumstances of Bro. Russell we look upon
well worthy of the immediate Commiseration & Assistance of
every tender hearted and good Mason ; have therefore voted
the Sum of £6 to the Relief of our sd. unfortunate Bro. and
the same transmitted to you pr the Bearer hereof, Mr. Josp'h
Roby. * * *

Do us the Honour to Believe that ever(y) Member of
this Lodge has the Honour of Masonry at Heart and will on
all Occasions exert his utmost Faculties to promote the Royal

A little later on Philip Bass applied to Union Lodge for
assistance. As he was a resident of Boston or vicinity the
Brethren of Nantucket thought his application should have the
endorsement of the Grand Lodge, and Secretary Fanning so

* Phineas Fanning married Kezia Coffin, daughter of Kezia.


informed the Right Worshipful Grand Secretary, who agreed
with the principle, but added " if a Brother is known to be
needy and worthy it lays with the Lodge appealed to to take
action." The Brethren of Union Lodge at once replied, in-
closing £$* for Bro. Bass and £6 for the Charity Fund, the
letter being so full of the true spirit of the Craft, that, by order
of the Grand Lodge, the correspondence was made a matter of

record. t

December 27, 1773, the Lodge celebrated the Feast of St.
John the Evangelist, in accordance with the requirements of
the Charter.

September 5, 1774, the Lodge voted that Fellow Crafts
could be made members, unless they signified to the contrary.
This seems to have been in accordance with the general lack
of system common to the majority of Lodges about this time,
and continuing for many years, resulting in a relaxation of the
strict rules of Freemasonry. By the strict law of those days
and by the invariable practice as well as law of today a Mem-
ber of a Lodge must be a Master Mason ; careful attention
must be observed that the Lodge acting has jurisdiction over
a candidate ; business can be transacted in the Lodge only
when it is open on the Master Mason's Degree ; but one
Degree could be conferred on a candidate without an inter-
vening period of a calendar month, save by Dispensation ; and
but five candidates were allowed to receive a Degree in one
day ; but the practice of that day, and even up to a compara-
tively recent period, had become too lax, and the contrary
action was frequent. Indeed, it was only so late as 1864 that
the law regarding limiting the number of candidates to five for
a Degree on one day was rigidly enforced.

On December 28. 1774, Brother Christopher Hussey, Jr.,
Secretary, wrote to the Right Worshipful Grand Secretary :

" I am directed agreeable to our Deputation to inform the
Right Worshipfull the Grand Master and the Grand Lodge,
that in our Lodge preceding the Celebration of the Feast of
St. John the Evangelist, we proceeded to the Election of Offi-
cers for the Year ensuing ; when we made Choice of the Fol-

* As only the sum of ^3 14s. was collected for Bro. Bass and one
other at the meeting of the Grand Lodge Dec. 27, 1773, the contribution
of Union Lodge was more than creditable.

t Proceedings of Grand Lodge 1733-1792, p. 207.


lowing, viz't R. W. B. Timothy Folger Esq. Master, W. Bo.
Christopher Hussey Sen'r Treasurer ; and George Calder, S.
W., John Bearde, J. W. Nath'l Barrett, S. D., John Gardner,
J. D., and Silvanus Pinkhara and Jonathan Jenkins, Stewards.

On the 27th of Decemb'r we met at the Lodge Room to
celebrate the Feast of St. John, from whence we proceeded in
Procession to the Rev'd Mr. Shaw's Meeting House, where
the Beauties of Masonry, the infinite Profit & Advantage of
Brotherly Love & Unity, were learned])-, elegantly & politely
displayed in a Sermon, to a numerous and respectable Audi-
ence, b\ mir Brother Zebulon Puller,* the Subject whereof he
made, Psalm 133d, Verse 1st, " Behold how good and how
pleasant it is for Brethren to dwell together in Unity." We
then pr< < eeded to a < onvenient place, where we dined together
as Brethren ; from whence we walked back to the Lodge Room
in Mas inic Procession ; the whole conducted with the great-
est order, decency & propriety.

We have opened a Subscription lor the Grand Fund of
Charity, but by reason of the precariousness of the Times have
thought proper to desist from collecting any money on that
head for the present. The Grand Lodge may be assured
of the exertion of the utmost of our Abilities to further all
such noble and generous Designs. I am also directed to in-
form you the number of our Members is Sixty-five ; which
increase very fast. God grant that neither Ambition, Lust of
Power, Faction, Discontent or any other Offspring of the fatal
Enemy of Masons may prevail to disunite the Hearts of Breth-
ren, or prevent the increase of L/nity, Love and Concord
amongst us, or in any other manner abate the Ardour, with
which I am your Affectionate Brother & hum'l Servant.

By order of the Right Worshipfull Master and Brethren,
Christopher Hussey, Jun'r Sec'y.

P. S. the R. W. and Brethren doth request the favour of
your inserting our Procession &c in the News Papers."

A regular attendance at the communications of the Lodge,
always enjoined on all Freemasons, was particularly impressed
in the early days of the Lodge, and we find by the records of
August 7, 1775, that it was " Voted that Broth'r Wm. Brock,
Sam'l Barrett & Chris'r Hussey be a Committee to Talk with
Bro Seth Jenkins and no the Reason, if he hath any, for Ab-
senting himself so long from the Lodge, and make then-
Report next Lodge night." At the following meeting Bro
Jenkins was reported to still hold " himself a member with a
Sincear Respect to the Craft and is Redy at all times to pay
up his arrears."

* Rev. Bro. Butler is described in the record as " Presbyterian."


November 6, 1775, it was " Voted that Bro Josiah Coffin
and Christ. Husseyjr Doath purchase for the Lodge use a %
Cask of good Tenerife Wine." In December it is recorded
that Bro. Benjamin Bunker presented the Lodge with " two
Complet Ivory Tipt Roles and one Ivory Mallet." These
probably were the gavel of the Master and the truncheons of
the Wardens.

The Feast of St. John, the Evangelist, was observed on De-
cember 27th of that year with a dinner at Bro. Josiah Coffin's
at an expense of three shillings and sixpence each. The guests
on that occasion, as recorded, were " Rev. Mr Shaw, Mr Jo-
siah Coffin Esq'r, Ebenz'r Calef Esq, Mr. Geo Hussey, Mr.
Jona Coffin, Mr Edward Cary, and Capt Ilinmon from ye
W. Indies."

At a Communication held April 1, 1776, it was " Voted that
the word Intoxicated in the Article 19 in Book By Laws
should be eraist out — and to Enact, and that no Bro should
Presume to swear in the Lodge." It is a little uncertain
whether our ancient Brethren thought swearing a greater

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Online LibraryAlexander StarbuckA century of Free Masonry in Nantucket (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 5)