History of Prince Hall Masonry
Prince Hall is recognized as the Father of Black Masonry in the United States. He made
it possible for us to also be recognized and enjoy all priviliges of Free and Accepted Masonry.
Many rumors of the birth of Prince Hall have arisen. Few records and papers have been found of him either in Barbados where
it was rumored that he was born, but no record of birth, by church or state, has been found there, and none in Boston. All
11 countries of the day were searched and churches with baptismal records were examined without a find of the name of Prince
One widely circulated rumor states that "Prince Hall was free born in British West Indies. His father, Thomas Prince Hall,
was an Englisman and his mother a free colored woman of French extraction. In 1765 he worked his passage on a ship to Boston,
where he worked as a leather worker, a trade learned from his father. Eight years later he had acquired real estate and was
qualified to vote. Religiously inclined, he later became a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church with a charge
in Cambridge." This account, paraphased from the generally discredited Grimshaw book of 1903, is suspect in many areas.2
Black Freemasonry began when Prince Hall and fourteen other free black men were initiated into Lodge No. 441, Irish Constitution,
attached to the 38th Regiment of Foot, British Army Garrisoned at Castle William (now Fort Independence) Boston Harbor on
March 6, 1775. The Master of the Lodge was Sergeant John Batt. Along with Prince Hall, the other newly made masons were
Cyrus Johnson, Bueston Slinger, Prince Rees, John Canton, Peter Freeman, Benjamin Tiler, Duff Ruform, Thomas Santerson, Prince
Rayden, Cato Speain, Boston Smith, Peter Best, Forten Howard and Richard Titley.
When the British Army left Boston in 1776, this Lodge, No 441, granted Prince Hall and his brethren authority to meet as
African Lodge #1 (Under Dispensation), to go in procession on St. John's Day, and as a Lodge to bury their dead; but they
could not confer degrees nor perform any other Masonic "work". For nine years these brethren, together with others who had
received their degrees elsewhere, assembled and enjoyed their limited privileges as Masons. Thirty-three masons were listed
on the rolls of African Lodge #1 on January 14th, 1779. Finally on March 2, 1784, Prince Hall petitioned the Grand Lodge
of England, through a Worshipful Master of a subordinate Lodge in London (William Moody of Brotherly Love Lodge No. 55) for
a warrant or charter.
The Warrant to African Lodge No. 459 of Boston is the most significant and highly prized document known to the Prince Hall
Mason Fraternity. Through it our legitimacy is traced, and on it more than any other factor, our case rests. It was granted
on September 29, 1784, delivered in Boston on April 29, 1787 by Captain James Scott, brother-in-law of John Hancock and master
of the Neptune, under its authority African Lodge No. 459 was organized one week later, May 6, 1787.
Prince Hall was appointed a Provincial Grand Master in 1791 by H.R.H., the Prince of Wales. The question of extending
Masonry arose when Absalom Jones of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania appeared in Boston. He was an ordained Episcopal priest and
a mason who was interested in establishing a masonic lodge in Philadelphia. Under the authority of the charter of African
Lodge #459, Prince Hall established African Lodge #459 of Philadelphia on March 22, 1797 and Hiram Lodge #3 in Providence,
Rhode Island on June 25, 1797. African Lodge of Boston became the "Mother Lodge" of the Prince Hall Family. It
was typical for new lodges to be established in this manner in those days. The African Grand Lodge was not organized
until 1808 when representatives of African Lodge #459 of Boston, African Lodge #459 of Philidelphia and Hiram Lodge #3 of
Providence met in New York City.
Upon Prince Hall's death on December 4, 1807, Nero Prince became Master. When Nero Prince sailed to Russia in 1808, George
Middleton succeeded him. After Middleton, Petrert Lew, Samuel H. Moody and then, John T. Hilton became Grand Master. In 1827,
Hilton recommended a Declaration of Independence from the English Grand Lodge.
In 1869 a fire destroyed Massachusetts' Grand Lodge headquarters and a number of its priceless records. The charter in
its metal tube was in the Grand Lodge chest. The tube saved the charter from the flames, but the intense heat charred the
paper. It was at this time that Grand Master S.T. Kendall crawled into the burning building and in peril of his life, saved
the charter from complete destruction. Thus a Grand Master's devotion and heroism further consecrated this parchment to us,
and added a further detail to its already interesting history. The original Charter No. 459 has long since been made secure
between heavy plate glass and is kept in a fire-proof vault in a downtown Boston bank.
Today, the Prince Hall fraternity has over 4,500 lodges worldwide, forming 45 independent jurisdictions with a membership
of over 300,000 masons. Want more light?
History of St Alban Lodge #35
Alban Lodge #57, A.Y.M. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was organized October 28, 1870, fromthe Twelfth Regiment National
Guard Pennsylvania under the influence of Captain Johnson. The first officers were: E.C.Howard, M.D.,Worshipful Master; Jeremiah
Johnson, Senior Warden; Edward W. Banton, Junior Warden; Joseph T. Seth, Secretary; and James S. Green, Treasurer. The Lodge
was an ardent worker for the Union and after the latter was affected, December 1882, became St. Alban Lodge #35, F.&
About our First Worshipful Master:
Major Edwin Clarence Howard, Physician of the 12th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment. Is buried in Eden Cemetery in one
of the plots owned by Saint Alban Lodge No. 35. This link does not mention his Masonic affiliations, but rather his Professional
and other Social aspects of his life. He lived at 508 S. 10th St in Center City. Click on the link below to see was written
about him as a graduate of the Harvard School of Medicine.
He was in attendance at Octavius V. Catto 's funeral: The largest public
funeral in the city since that of Abraham Lincoln was held for Octavius Catto on October 16, 1871. Because Catto was, at the
time of his death, serving in the Pennsylvania National Guard as a Major and Inspector of the 5th Brigade, and in fact was
on duty at the time of his murder, a full military funeral was held. Catto was laid in state in the City Armory at Broad and
Race Streets. His coffin was placed in the center of the Armory, and he was laid out in the full-dress uniform of a Major
of Infantry. His bier was guarded by troops of the 5th Brigade of the Pennsylvania National Guard. Thousands thronged the
streets to gain access and a view of the martyred hero. His pallbearers were fellow officers of his Brigade. In attendance
were many notable veterans of the late war, including: Maj. Gen. Charles Collis, Maj. Gen. Horatio Sickel, and Dr. E.C. Howard, Major and Surgeon of the 12th Pennsylvania
Infantry Regiment. Also attending in a body were the members of
City Council, members of the state legislature, officers of the Regular Army and Navy, and other distinguished political leaders.