Thomas Smith Webb

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Thomas Smith Webb

Thomas Smith Webb (October 30, 1771 – July 6, 1819) was the author of Freemason’s Monitor or Illustrations of Masonry, a book which had a significant impact on the development of Masonic Ritual in America, and especially that of the York Rite.[1] Webb has been called the "Founding Father of the York or American Rite" for his efforts to promote those Masonic bodies.[2]


Webb was born in Boston, Massachusetts. At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to a printer in Boston, and he afterward moved to Keene, New Hampshire, where he worked for some time at his trade. Here the three degrees of ancient craft Masonry were conferred upon him by Rising Sun Lodge. In 1793 he moved to Albany, New York and established a paper staining factory. On 14 September 1797, as appears from the copyright, he published The Freemason's Monitor, or Illustrations of Masonry. This small volume, which is now very rare, consisted of two parts, the second part containing an account of the "Ineffable Degrees of Masonry" together with several Masonic songs by the author. The publication of this work was followed by successively enlarged and improved editions in 1802, 1805, 1808, 1816, 1818, and by numerous editions after the author's death.[3]

Thomas Smith Webb presided over a convention of committees in Boston in October, 1797, for the formation of a general Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, and at a meeting in Providence in January, 1799, he presented, as chairman of a committee, a constitution which was adopted. The formation of the Grand Encampment of the United States was the result of his Masonic work. The original draft of the constitution, with all the changes, additions, and interlineations in his own handwriting, is in the archives of St. John's Commandery, Providence, Rhode Island. In 1799 he moved with his family to Providence, where he spent the greater part of his remaining years.[3]

His musical attainments were considerable, and he was the first president of the Psallonian Society, an organization for the improvement of its members in sacred melody. In 1815, having changed his residence to Boston, he instituted, in connection with others, the Handel and Haydn Society, of which he was the first president.[3]

He also served as the first Grand Commander of what is now the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar and the Appendant Orders of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island in 1813-14.[4]


  1. ^ Tabbert, Mark A., American Freemasons, New York University Press, 2005, pp.51-53
  2. ^ Biography of Thomas Smith Webb, on the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon website.
  3. ^ a b c Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1889). "Webb, Thomas Smith" . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  4. ^ "Thomas Smith Webb" Short Talk Bulletin. Masonic Service Association of North America.


  • Hodapp, Christopher; Freemasons for Dummies, Wiley Publishing, 2005, pp. 43–44.
  • Morris, S. Brent; The Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry, Alpha books, 2006, p. 24.

Further reading[edit]

  • Paul Dean. A eulogy delivered in Boylston Hall, Boston at the request of the Masonic, Handel and Haydn, and Philharmonic Societies, August 19, 1819, on the character of their late friend and brother Thomas Smith Webb, Esq.

External links[edit]