PS Review of Freemasonry NEWS

Thursday, April 18, 2019

1779 Rules and Regulations of African Lodge No. 1 Continue to Uncover Details of the Lodge's Start

1779 General Regulations of African Lodge

In light of the Examination of the White Paper, which offered a response to the paper published and presented to the Conference of Grand Masters (PHA) by the special historical committee of the MW Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, Landmarks of our Fathers continues to be solidified in its position of a later initiation and start for African Lodge No. 1 via the records of the Lodge itself.

This time support come from the 1779 General Regulations of African Lodge No. 1. These General Regulations are dated January 14, 1779. The regulations are affixed with a list of members separated by Masters, Craftes and Intered a Prentices.

Back of the 1779 General Regulations

It is our position that the General Regulations were drawn up January 14th, 1779 and were actually submitted to the Grand Lodge of England by Prince Hall after the reception of the Charter. This is concluded by several features of the back of the General Regulations.

The short note following the list of names, begins:

"These are a true list of the loving members of African Lodge AT PRESENT..."

According to all narratives, there is no mention of Prince Hall writing to the Grand Lodge of England in the year 1779. This date immediately after the list of General Regulations would represent the date on which the Regulations were drawn up by African Lodge No. 1.

Considering the fact that African Lodge did not begin correspondence with the Grand Lodge of England until after the granting of the Charter. The first letter written directly to the Grand Lodge of England is dated Sept. 22, 1785, from Prince Hall to Henry Frederick, Grand Master of Masons. I would confidently state that the above Regulations were sent to the Grand Lodge of England after Sept. 22, 1785.

Another clue to a later dating of the short note by the hand of Prince Hall is found within the note itself:

"These are a true list of the loving members of the African Lodge at present, thou[gh] there is a number absent at this time: We shall collect for the [pound?] of Cherrety the Next Quartly meeting and send it the first opertunity we can get afterwerds
after Whishing His Royal Highnes Our Nobel Grand and the Grand Lodge all Happiness Hear and hearafter I humbley Beg leve to subscribe myself your humble servant Br. Prince Hall"

The declaration of collecting for Charity provides us insight into the dating. So, it is clear that the General Regulations drawn up by African Lodge No. 1, dated January 14, 1779, were submitted to the Grand Lodge of England after September 22, 1785.

The reason this must be established first, is to get a date of the members list provided by Prince Hall, because he stated that the list represented the names of the members at PRESENT (at least 1785). The list is as follows:

Cyrus Forbes
Thomas Sanderson SW
Brister Slenzer
Prince Taylor
Boston Smith JW
Fortain Howard
John Carter
John Means
Cato Underwood St [secretary]
Jube Hill Tr [treasurer]
William Gorge Gregrey
Gorge Medelton SD
Boston Fadey
John Brown JD
Pritcherd Pollard Mershel [Marshall]
Ceser Speer PM
Prince Spooner
John Hopte


Ceser Fleet
Sipco Dalton clerk
Cear Cambel
Pompey Eades Tiler

Intered a Prentices

Cuff Bufform
Pommenes Speer
Phiplep Boston
Seazer Speer
Cato Rusel
Forday Cudmerch
John Bown
Sipeo Lard
Bristol Merrandy
James Smeeth
James Hawkins

Please note the names in bold. These are those who were the first to be initiated March 6, 1778 by John Batt. Including Prince Hall, we find that only 9 of the Immortal 15 remain members of the Lodge at the date of the writing. The missing 6 names are as follows:

Cato Speer
Peter Best (deceased)
Prince Reed (expelled)
Peter Freeman (deceased)
Benjamin Tiler
Richard Tilley

What is even more interesting is the name CUFF BUFFORM, whom we recognize as one of the Immortal 15, but is listed as an Intered Aprentice [Entered Apprentice]. If we can conclude that the dating of Prince Hall's short note was after Sept. 22, 1785, and that Prince Hall stated that the list was the listing of the members AT PRESENT, it would mean that Cuff Bufform was still an Intered Apprentice in 1785.

According to the traditional narrative all of the Immortal 15 were raised as MMs together on March 6, 1775. We at least know that they couldn't have been raised as MMs on March 6, 1775, because at least ONE of the Immortal 15 was still an Entered Apprentice in 1785.

Lastly, the 1779 General Regulations supports a March 6, 1778 initiation of the Immortal 15 because they fit into the timeline perfectly.

March 6, 1778 John Batt initiates the first 15 members of African Lodge No. 1

Listing of Immortal 15, dating March 6, 177(8?)

Here is another document from the African Lodge archive with the definitive date of March 6, 1778.

Registry dated March 6, 1778
John Batt is listed as Grand Master [Worshipful Master]. It is my position that on March 6, 1778, John Batt also raised Prince Hall and Thomas Sanderson as Master Masons. This would explain why there is no month and day by their raising date, because the top of the document would be their Month and Day. John Batt, Prince Hall and Thomas Sanderson would be 3 Master Masons, which is the number needed to open a Lodge for "business".

John Batt deserts the Continental Army June 10, 1778.

Prince Hall takes over as Grand Master [Worshipful Master], and we find the first documented work of Prince Hall, December 29, 1778, when he initiates Lancaster Hill [his close associate] as an Entered Apprentice.

December 29, 1778 Prince Hall initiates Lancaster Hill

And then we find the drawing up of the General Regulations January 14, 1779, sixteen days later.

It would seem plausible to expect that if the Lodge had been functioning since 1776, and that they were raised in a Military Lodge, that African Lodge would have in their possession, in 1785, a copy of their records of any kind with a date of March 6, 1775 or 1776, which would provide some proof of a Lodge or membership of Masons in 1775 and 1776. The oldest by laws for African Lodge are dated after 1778, fitting in the timeline that would support the date on the Registry which is March 6, 1778.

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  1. Bro... This is absolutely wonderful information regarding the beginnings of Prince Hall Masonry and Afeican Lodge #1. You and your committee have done much needed work in bringing this information to the forefront. Please continue to do so if and when new information presents itself.
    Bro. Levian Hall, PM
    West Hyde Park No. 327 (MWUGLFL)
    Tampa, FL