Grand Lodge of New Jersey
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|Formation||January 30, 1787|
|The State of New Jersey|
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The Grand Lodge of New Jersey Free & Accepted Masons. The Grand Lodge of New Jersey - The Most Ancient and Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons for the State of New Jersey is the official governing body of New Jersey Masonic Lodges as recognized by other Grand Jurisdictions throughout the world. As early as 1730, New Jersey was one of the first states with active Freemasonry.:51 The Grand Lodge of NJ was formally established in 1787.:558 The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of State of New Jersey and The Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of New Jersey recognize each other as Masonic Grand Lodges. New Jersey's history is rich with Freemasonry and vice versa.
Masonry in the United States
A New World
The first known Freemason to live in the "New World" is believed to be John Skene. Skene was a member of Aberdeen Lodge #1 in Scotland. His name appears as the 27th listed in one of the oldest written records of Freemasons, the Mark Book of Aberdeen Lodge#1 (1670), as "Merchand and Meason".:XVI:1 The trade guilds of free masons "operative free masons", originally formed in the 14th century, began accepting noblemen and gentlemen as "Accepted Masons" or "Speculative Masons" as early as the 16th century.:1 Records being vague of the membership to protect trade secrets, John Skene's name is the first that can be traced to the new world.:55 He was the Burgess of Aberdeen, Scotland from 1629 until moving to New Jersey. Skene's move was after persecution as a Quaker in Scotland and having been sent to prison and fined. John Forbes, another Freemason from Aberdeen Lodge #1, moved to Plainfield, New Jersey in 1684 only to go back to Scotland the following year.:122 Several other Masons from Aberdeen Lodge #1 moved to West Jersey during the same period but most shortly moved back to Scotland.:182 The passage for many of these Masons was secured by Harrie Elphingson (Master of Aberdeen Lodge #1 at the time of the Mark Book of 1670) as booking agent and under the patronage of the Earl of Perth, himself a Freemason.:182 Skene moved to the Province of West Jersey in 1682.:35 According to The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA), Skene purchased a 300 arce property in 1674 (though there is no evidence that he came to Jersey before 1682) that he named Peachfield. It was in the Second Tenth of the Province, an area that would become Northampton Township, Burlington County, New Jersey (Nov. 6th, 1688) and then Westampton Township, New Jersey (March 6, 1850) near Burlington, New Jersey. Skene served as Deputy Governor of West Jersey from 1684 until 1692, part of that time under Governor Dr. Daniel Coxe (1687-1688 and 1689-1692). Dr. Coxe never lived in the "New World", he governed from England, but his son did.:88
Freemasonry in the Early American Colonies
On June 5 of 1730, the Grand Master of England, Thomas Howard, 8th Duke of Norfolk, appointed Daniel Coxe, Jr., of West Jersey as Provincial Grand Master of Freemasons for the provinces of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.:324 It has been said that he died before he hadn't chartered a single lodge and that there is no evidence that Coxe ever did any Masonic work whatsoever while serving as Grand Master,:51 but certain records indicate differently. His authority would have been brought to practical operation for the forming of a Lodge in Philadelphia, the press of the day indicating existed in 1732 with William Allen as the Master. Also made a Mason during this period was Benjamin Franklin on February 1, 1731 at St. John's Lodge, which was its self founded in 1730 (perhaps St. John's Day, June 24).:228:X:85 It is also indicated that it was not customary for Provincial Grand Masters abroad (away from England) to send any reports of their doings.:IX Franklin later went on to form another Lodge in Philadelphia, seeking authority from Henry Price, the Grand Master of Masons for New England.:57
Although there are few records, Freemasons held meetings and formed "irregular" Lodges, so called because they weren't chartered by the Grand Lodge of England or any other Grand Lodge, throughout the 17th and 18th centuries.:35 Because these lodges were unsanctioned they kept no written records, therefor early American history was nearly silent with regards to Freemasonry prior to 1730 and the appointment of Daniel Coxe Jr.:324
Andrew Belcher is the first know American born Freemason.:319 He was probably born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. in 1706 and he was Raised (made a Master Mason) in 1733. That same year he was appointed the first Deputy Grand Master in America by Henry Price. MORE HERE ON HENRY PRICE
Grand Lodge Era
In the early 18th Century Freemasonry began to pull together and formalize their forms of recognition and establishment.
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- Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, State of New Jersey. "Home Page". Retrieved 9 January 2014.
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- Barclay, John Memoirs of the Rise, Progress and Persecutions of the People Called Quakers: In the North of Scotland. Nathan Kite, 1835.
- Hirschman, Elizabeth Caldwell; Yates, Donald Neal Jews and Muslims in British Colonial America: A Genealogical History. McFarland, 2012.
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- The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America. "PEACHFIELD (1725)". Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- Lambert, David E. The Protestant International and the Huguenot Migration to Virginia. Peter Lang, 2010.
- Brownell, John. H.. Smith, Arthur Maurice. Morcombe, Joseph E.. Pride, Richard. Campbell, George T.. The American Tyler-keystone: Devoted to Freemasonry and Its Concerdant Others, Volume 16, Issue 14. J. H. Brownell, 1902.
- Whitehead, William Silas "Origin of Masonry in the State of New Jersey: And the Entire Proceedings of the Grand Lodge, from Its Organization." J. H. Hough, 1870
- Lemay, J. A. Leo "The Life of Benjamin Franklin, Volume 2: Printer and Publisher, 1730-1747" University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006
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- GENI.com. "Andrew Belcher (1706 - 1771)". Retrieved 8 January 2014.