Freemasonry was established in Delaware by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. Between 1765 and 1786 it chartered lodges at Cantwell’s Bridge, Christiana Ferry, Dover, New Castle and Duck Creek Cross Roads. After becoming independent, the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania chartered lodges in Lewistown (1794) and Newark (1802). The Grand Lodge of Maryland also chartered two lodges in Delaware: St. John’s of Sussex County in 1792 and Hope Lodge at Laureltown in 1806.
On June 6, 1806 a convention of lodges was held at Wilmington and the next day the Grand Lodge of Delaware was instituted with a line of Grand Lodge officers. Delaware’s first Grand Master, Gunning Bradford, Jr. (1747-1812) was a delegate to the Continental Congress (1783-1785), the Attorney General of Delaware (1784-1789) and a Federal District Judge (1789-1812). The first four lodges were renumbered as Washington № 1 (Wilmington), St. John’s № 2 (New Castle), Hiram № 3 (Newark) and Hope № 4 (Laurel).
Despite the Anti-Masonic period of the 1820-40s, Freemasonry grew with the state. In 1861, as the Civil War began, there were 20 local lodges and by 1903 there were 30 lodges and over 10,000 members.
In 1911 Delaware freemasons purchased an old mansion with a twelve acre farm near Wilmington. A year later the Grand Lodge dedicated the Mansion as the Masonic Home of Delaware. In its first year it cared for eight guests – four men and four women. In time the home grew to provide a full range of service and activities. Highfield Masonic Home of Delaware continues to care for over 20 residences.
Today, Grand Master Evan R. Moody presides over the Grand Lodge of Delaware comprised of 28 lodges with a membership over 4,500 brothers. Delaware Freemasonry has had such prominent members as Jacob Broom (1752-1810) signer of the U.S. Constitution, diplomat and industrialist Victor Marie DuPont (1767-1827), U.S. Senator John J. Williams (1904-1988) and historian and Past Grand Master Harold “Jack” Littleton who cared for Gunning Bradford, Jr.’s home, Lombardy Hall, in Wilmington.