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Royal Arch Grand Bodies in America

The first meeting of delegates out of which arose the General Grand Chapter was at Boston, October 24, 1797. The Convention adjourned to assemble at Hartford, in January, 1798, and it was there the Grand Chapter of the Northern States of America was organized. Again, on the 9th of January, 1799, an adjourned meeting was held, whereat it was resolved to change its name to that of General Grand Royal Arch Chapter of the Northern States of America. On January 9, 1806, the present designation was adopted, to wit: "The General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masonry for the United States of America." New York was determined upon as the place for the first Convocation, September, 1812, and the sessions to be made sentential, every seventh year. It failed to meet at the appointed time, but an important Convocation was held in New York City, on June 6, 1816.

Joseph K. Wheeler, Grand Secretary, in his introduction to the Records of Capitular Masonry in the State of Connecticut, says, after mentioning the names of the Chapters represented at the organization of the Grand Chapter in 1798: "In tracing their history it will be observed that all of these Chapters obtained their authority from a Washington Chapter in the city of New York, with the exception of Vanderbroeck, No. 5," chartered at an early date, by the Grand Chapter of New York, after which no more Chapters were established by any authority outside the Jurisdiction of Connecticut except Lynch Chapter, No. 8, located at Reading and Weston, which was chartered by the Grand Chapter of New York, August 23, 1801, which charter was signed by Francis Lynch, High Priest, Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons; James Woods, King; and Samuel Clark, Scribe; which was admitted to membership in Grand Chapter of Connecticut, May 19, 1808.

It is of interest here to note that the oldest Chapter in New York State is Ancient, No. 1, whose date of origin is lost, its records up to 1804 having been destroyed by fire, but tradition fixes the year 1763. For years it wielded the powers of a Grand Chapter, and until 1799 was known as the Old Grand Chapter. It granted Charters for Chapters in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. In this last named State it issued a Charter to Lynch Chapter See above) which was received into full fellowship by the Grand Chapter of Connecticut although the Grand Chapter of New York had been in existence some time before the Charter was issued.

On the formation of the Grand Chapter of the State of New York, the numbers 1 and 2 were left vacant for the acceptance of Old and Washington Chapters, which latter was an offspring of the former, who at that time refused to place themselves under its Jurisdiction. In 1808, Old Chapter enrolled itself as Ancient under the State Grand Body, accepted the number one, and was further honored by having its High Priest, tames Woods, elected Deputy Grand High Priest. The organization of the General Grand Chapter is explained at length in Doctor Mackey's revised History of Freemasonry.

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