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Manningham, Thomas

Dr. Thomas Manningham was a physician, of London, of much repute in the eighteenth century. He took an active interest in the concerns of Freemasonry, being Deputy Grand Master of England, 1752-6. According to Oliver ( Revelations of a Square, page 86), he was the author of the prayer now so well known to the Fraternity, which was presented by him to the Grand Lodge, and adopted as a form of prayer to be used at the initiation of a candidate. Before that period, no prayer was used on such occasions, and the one composed by Manningham, Oliver says with the assistance of Anderson, which is doubtful, as Anderson died in 1739, is here given as a document of the time. It will be seen that in our day it has been somewhat modified, Preston making the first change; and that, originally used as one prayer, it has since been divided, in this country at least, into two, the first part being used as a prayer at the opening of a Lodge, and the latter at the initiation of a candidate.

Most Holy and Glorious Lord God, thou Architect of Heaven and Earth, who art the Giver of all good Gifts and Graces- and hath promised that where two or three are gathered together in thy Name, thou wilt be in the Midst of them- in thy Name we assemble and meet together, most humbly beseeching thee to bless us in all our Undertakings: to give us thy Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds with Wisdom and Understanding- that we may know and serve thee aright, that all our Doinhs may tend to thy Glory and the Salvation of our Souls. And we beseech thee, O Lord God, to bless this our present Undertaking, and to grant that this our Brother may dedicate his Life to thy Service, and be a true and faithful Brother amongst us. undue him with Divine Wisdom, that he may, with the secrets of Masonry, be able to unfold the Mysteries of Godliness and Christianity This we humbly beg, in the Name and for the Sake of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Amen.

Doctor Manningham rendered other important services to Freemasonry by his advocacy of healthy reforms and his determined opposition to the schismatic efforts of the Ancient Freemasons. He died February 3, 1794. The third edition of the Boot; of Constitutions (1756, page 258) speaks of him in exalted terms as "a diligent and active officer." Two interesting letters written by Doctor Manningham are given at length in Gould's Concise History of Freemasonry (pages 328-34); one dated December 3, 1756, and addressed to what was then the Provincial Grand Lodge of Holland, refusing leave for the holding of Scotch Lodges and pointing out that Freemasonry is the same in all parts of the world; and another dated July 1, 1757, also dealing with the so-called Scotch Freemasonry, and explaining that its orders of Knighthood were unknown in England, where the only Orders known are those of Masters, Fellow Crafts, and Apprentices. We may add to the above article, written by Brother Hawkins, retarding the prayer, a further comment upon its age with the addition of the word new preceding Brother it is found in the edition of the Constitutions printed at Dublin, 1730, and reprinted by Brother Richard Spencer, 1870. This seems to antedate the activity of Doctor Manningham.

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