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Grand Lodge Offices

The Book of Constitutions of 1723 states explicitly that when delegates from four or more Lodges met in conference in 1716 their only purpose was to arrange for a general assembly and feast for Lodges then working in London. This they accomplished when in the following year they elected a Grand Master and two Grand Wardens, the latter being thought of as assistants to the Grand Master. It was not the purpose to "revive" Masonry, which did not need revival, or to set up a new authority over Masons everywhere, or to constitute a "new system" of Masonry. The step was taken by London Lodges, and for London Lodges; each joining Lodge vas to retain its own charter (or Old Charges) and sovereignty as before; the only purpose was to have a center where once every three months the member Lodges could meet together.

The gradual development which followed, and which resulted in a Grand Lodge for England, and the formation of a whole national system of Speculative Masonry, was not complete until about 1735. A Grand Secretary was appointed in 1723, with William Cowper, clerk to the Parliament, the first incumbent; but it was some years before the Grand Secretaryship became a Grand Lodge office.

A Committee on Charity was formed in 1725 (now the Board of Benevolence); it looked after general affairs as well as Relief. A Treasurer for the Charity Fund was first appointed in 1724; he did not become a Grand Treasurer until 1753. An Acting Grand Master was appointed in 1782, when the Duke of Cumberland was Grand Master; since 1834 the office has been called Pro Grand Master. The office of Deputy Grand Master was first set up in 1721. In 1724 Past Grand Masters were given a vote in Grand Lodge. The Office of Grand Chaplain was set up in 1775. Grand Deacons were first appointed after the Union in 1813. Grand Stewards were first appointed in 1728; the Grand Stewards Lodge was constituted in 1735. The Ancient Grand Lodge (1751) had a Committee on Charity in 1754 which it called Stewards Lodge.

At the Union in 1813 seven boards or committees were set up, chief among them being the Board of General Purposes, which has a President, a staff, and is the continuing administrative body, a "cabinet council." Subordinate Grand Bodies outside England were called Provincial Grand Lodges until 1865, since which time they have been called District Grand Lodges. New Grand Lodge Officers have been created as late as 1914.

Neither histories nor encyclopedias describe the office of Provincial Grand Master for Foreign Lodges but such an office must have existed because in the Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of England (Modern) for the Quarterly Grand Communication on February 6, 1771 "John Devignoles, Esq., Prov. G. M. for Foreign Lodges" is listed as present.

At no time did the first Grand Lodge give evidence of administrative genius, for its machinery of organization was never completed, and did not work very well, and it was weakest in its provisions for looking after Provincial Grand Lodges in England, and, still morels Provincial Grand Lodges abroad. From 1730 until the Revolutionary War the American Provincial Grand Lodge System was not a system but a continuing series of improvisations; some Lodges obtained their Charters directly from London, others from one of the few Provincial Grand Lodges; the latter could seldom obtain answers to their letters; a Charter voted on in London might not reach a Lodge here for two or three years (seven years in one instance); the foreign Grand Bodies levied taxes and maintained control but they did not govern; at one time two Provincial Grand Masters were over the seal of the Grand Lodge designated Grand Masters for the whole of America; and though the four Grand Lodges in Great Britain between 1751 and the Revolutionary War period had Lodges and Provincial Grand Lodges here, and were near neighbors at home, they made no attempt to correlate or unify their many rival and sometimes conflicting Lodges and Provincial Grand Lodges either here or in Canada.

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