HISTORY OF ROYAL ARCH MASONRY IN NORTH AMERICA


Until the end of the 18th century, Masonic Lodges in North America performed Royal Arch ceremonies, as well as some others that are now more familiarly part of Knights Templar and the Red Cross of Constantine.

Fredericksburg Lodge in Virginia lists a conferral of the Royal Arch degree on December 22, 1753. There is also a Royal Arch Chapter noted in 1769 in Massachusetts (St. Andrew’s Royal Arch Chapter in Boston, then known as Royall Arch Lodge), where the first Knights Templar degree was also conferred. Through a report compiled by the Committee on History and Research appointed by the Grand Chapter of Massachusetts in 1953 and 1954, it was found that St. Andrew’s Royal Arch Chapter was the oldest constituted Chapter in the Western Hemisphere, having been officially constituted April 9, 1769, though the records implied that the Chapter had been working prior to that date, and perhaps as early as 1762. The report also states that it is unknown whether the Fredericksburg Lodge in Virginia conferred only the degree of ‘Royal Arch Mason’ or the entire series of American Capitular Masonry degrees.

Pennsylvania, on the other hand, claims to have the oldest extant Royal Arch Chapter in the world. Royal Arch Chapter No. 3 (formerly Jerusalem Royal Arch Chapter No. 3, and before that Royal Arch Lodge No. 3) has complete minutes going back as far as December 3, 1767. (The minutes from this date mention approving the minutes from the previous meeting.) This chapter began meeting under the authority of the Grand Lodge of England (Ancients) and it is believed that the chapter was constituted around 1758, but this date has yet to be proven. The Grand Chapter of Pennsylvania is the first Royal Arch Grand Chapter in North America and was formed on November 23, 1795 by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.

After the independence of the American Colonies in 1776, Freemasonry in the United States remained relatively little influenced by the rivalry between the “Antients” and “Moderns” in England. In 1797, a group of Royal Arch masons met in Hartford to try to establish some sort of governing body for degrees that were largely conferred in the New England states, which became the Grand Chapter of the Northern States, and later was broken down into the state-by-state Grand Chapter system. This body later became the General Grand Chapter, Royal Arch Masons International.

In the United States and in Canada, the teachings of the Holy Royal Arch as practised in England and Wales are mainly contained in the degree of ‘Royal Arch Mason’, which is now one of four degrees worked by Royal Arch Chapters in the York Rite.

(the source/read more: Wikipedia)

 

HISTORY OF ROYAL ARCH MASONRY IN NORTH AMERICA

 

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