1. Annex A states the Board's view of Regularity and recognition.
2. Annex B is a short history of Prince Hall Masonry.
COMMENT ON PRINCE HALL MASONRY
3. By the standards of today, the formation of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge
of Massachusetts was irregular. In the 18th Century, however, three Grand
Lodges in North America were formed by not three but two Lodges, and the
Grand Lodge of New Jersey was formed simply by a Grand Convention of Masons.
By standards then prevailing, the formation of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge
of Massachusetts could have been seen as merely eccentric, and of acceptable
4. Notwithstanding the unusual transformation of its original Lodge into a
Grand Lodge, the philosophy and practice of Prince Hall Masonry today are of
RECOGNITION OF OR OTHER RELATIONS WITH PRINCE HALL GRAND LODGES
5. Some Grand Lodges in North America have recognised Prince Hall Grand
Lodges, and others allow inter-visitation between their Brethren and
Brethren of Prince Hall Grand Lodges in their territory. Both sorts are
dealing with what the Board sees as irregularly-formed bodies. Grand Lodge's
initial reaction was to stop Brethren of the English Constitution visiting
Lodges in the affected jurisdictions.
6. In 1988 the Board was unable to support an application from the Grand
Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, seeking recognition
for his Grand Lodge (and in ultimate effect on behalf of some 300,000 Prince
Hall Masons in jurisdictions descended from his).
BOARD'S CURRENT VIEW AND PROPOSAL
7. The Board has been reconsidering the application for over three years,
and it believes that the proper course is now to ignore the unusual
formation of the African Grand Lodge and to recommend instead that the
Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts should be deemed to be and accepted
as regular, and recognised. This is not intended to set a general precedent,
but the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, which was the African Grand
Lodge's forerunner may also merit special consideration.
8. If the problem of regularity were to be solved in this way, the State
Grand Lodge of Massachusetts would have no objection to the United Grand
Lodge of England recognising the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, both-Massachusetts
Grand Lodges having sovereign jurisdiction over the Brethren and Lodges of
their Constitution in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Recognition of
other Prince Hall Grand Lodges descended from African Lodge might follow
9. The Board recommends that the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts be
10. An appropriate resolution will be moved, and appears at item of the
paper of business.
11. The administrations of the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland have
been kept informed of the Board's deliberations. They agree in principle
that the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts should be recognised and
are aware of what might follow.
A. Regularity and Recognition
B. Short History of Prince Hall Masonry
Annex A: REGULARITY AND RECOGNITION INTRODUCTION
1. The regularity and recognition of Grand Lodges are separate but allied
subjects. Unless a Grand Lodge is regular, it cannot be recognised. Unless a
Grand Lodge is recognised, its Brethren cannot (or should not) be met as
Freemasons by Brethren of regular and recognised Grand Lodges.
2. The "Basic Principles for Grand Lodge Recognition" were adopted by Grand
Lodge in 1929. This was a codification, and not a statement of new
principles. summarised the tests which the United Grand Lodge of England had
applied and would apply in recognising regular Grand Lodges throughout the
World. Eight principles are set out in 'the Book of Constitutions, and
restated in Grand Lodge's leaflet "Freemasonry's External Relations" To be
eligible for recognition, a Grand Lodge must
a. be regular in its origin (see paragraph 3 below)
b. be truly independent and self-governing (see paragraph 4 below)
c. adhere to 'landmarks' (a landmark is an essential characteristic of
regular Freemasonry), viz:
(I) its Brethren must believe in a Supreme Being (the GAOTU);
(ii) Obligations must be taken on or in full view of the VSL;
(iii) it must display the three Great Lights of Freemasonry when it or its
Lodges are open;
(iv) discussion of religion and politics in its Lodges must be prohibited,
(v) its membership must be male, and it must have nothing to do with mixed
or women's Lodges.
REGULARITY OF ORIGIN
3. The original Grand Lodges (England, Ireland and Scotland) were formed by
private Lodges which had formed themselves Time immemorial Lodges, in
English parlance. the 18th Century, three State Grand Lodges in the United
States of America were formed by two Lodges, and one was formed by a Grand
Convention of Masons Subsequent Grand Lodges follow the modern rule in
4. A Grand Lodge must have been established by: a) a recognised Grand Lodge,
or b) three (nowadays) or more regularly constituted private Lodges, formed
in accordance within the rules and customs of a regular Grand Lodge.
5. A Grand Lodge must have undisputed authority over Craft (or basic)
Freemasonry within its jurisdiction, and not be subject in any way to or
share power with any other Masonic body.
6. This principle is expressed overseas as exclusive Territorial
jurisdiction, but has recently been qualified as being "subject to
exceptions" This qualification means the principle is not violated if Grand
Lodges agree to share territory while remaining authority over Brethren
under their jurisdiction (e.g., our recognition of four Grand Lodges in
Colombia; the acceptance of the Grand Lodges of New Zealand and South Africa
(etc.) of Lodges under the UGLE (etc.) in their territory, and the fact that
Lodges under the Grand Lodge of the State of Washington work in the
territory of the Grand Lodge of Alaska). Agreement by one Grand Lodge to
share its territory with another does not imply license for other Grand
Lodges to insert Lodges into the territory of the first Grand Lodge.
7. England's view, of jurisdiction over the Brethren in its constitution
regardless of where their Lodges meet, has the merit of simplicity, and is
compatible with the territorial view described above. In practice, England
does not ignore territorial sovereignty when it considers recognition.
8. Recognition is a series of bi-lateral relationships between Grand Lodges.
If a Grand Lodge seeks recognition from England, and in due course is
recognised, the mutual recognition between it and England cannot bind a
third Grand Lodge.
9. England's recent policy on recognition has been described as needing to
be convinced that it should be granted, rather than noting an absence of
reasons why it should not.
SHORT HISTORY OF PRINCE HALL MASONRY
1. On 29 September 1784 a warrant was granted by the premier Grand Lodge of
England to 15 men in Boston, Massachusetts (including Bro Hall, whose first
name was Prince) forming them into African Lodge, No. 459 on the English
2. African Lodge contributed to the Charity Fund until 1797 and was in
correspondence with the Grand Secretary until the early 19th Century. Grand
Lodge's letter books for this period are, however, incomplete and it is not
impossible that correspondence on both sides may have seemed to have been
ignored. After 1802, largely due to effect on transport to and
communications with North America of the Napoleonic War, contact was lost.
3. In 1797 African Lodge, contrary to the terms of its warrant and the
English Book of Constitutions by which it was bound, gave authority to two
groups of men to meet as Lodges: African Lodge No. 459B to meet at
Philadelphia in Pennsylvania and Hiram Lodge (without a number) to meet at
Providence, Rhode island. Authority may have been given to others after
4. At the amalgamation of the two Registers after the Union of the two Grand
Lodges in England in 1813, African Lodge (and many others at home and
abroad) was omitted from the register, there having been no contact for many
years. African Lodge was, however, not formally erased.
5. What is now the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania was formed in
6. In 1827, having been refused acknowledgment by the Grand Lodge of
Massachusetts, African Lodge declared itself to be an independent Grand
Lodge, the African Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. African Lodge was then (or
7. In the 1830s and 1840s the new Grand Lodge and other Lodges which it had
formed made various unsuccessful attempts to form a National African Grand
Lodge. The style "Prince Hall Grand Lodge" became current in the 1840s,
Prince Hall Grand Lodges were formed and survive in most of the United
States of America. Some Lodges work overseas, especially in the West Indies.
8. All Prince Hall Grand Lodges are descended from what is now the Prince
Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts
RELATIONS WITH BRETHREN OF OTHER GRAND LODGES
10. Visitors and visiting R.125 of the Book of constitutions requires
Masters of our Lodges to ensure that visitors are from Grand Lodges
recognised by the UGLE. This requirement is the subject of an annually
repeated article in "information for the Guidance of Members of the Craft"
(1991 Edition, p.6). The corollary is the annual notice on "Attendance at
Lodges overseas" (Ib. p.5), which should be printed once a year in every
Lodge's summons and which includes advice to withdraw from accidental
contact with Brethren from unrecognised Grand Lodges. (Note: This is to
avoid potentially difficult and possibly unharmonious situations, and is not
an attempt to impose any particular view on Grand Lodges overseas.)
RESOLUTION FOR GRAND LODGE
The Grand Registrar to move that, notwithstanding its unusual formation, the
Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts should now be accepted as regular,
and be recognised.
resolution was adopted by the United Grand Lodge of England in December