history of prince hall masonry

Prince Hall is recognized as the Father of Black Masonry in the United States. Historically, he made it possible for Negroes to be recognized and enjoy all privileges of free and accepted masonry. Many rumors of the birth of Prince Hall have arisen. A few records and papers have been found of him in Barbados where it was rumored that he was born in 1748 . One widely circulated rumor states that "Prince Hall was free born in British West Indies. His father, Thomas Prince Hall, was an Englishman and his mother a free colored woman of French extraction. 


In 1765 he worked his passage on a ship to Boston, where he worked as a leather worker, a trade learned from his father. During this time he married Sarah Ritchery. Shortly after their marriage, she died at the age of 24. 


In 1775 Free Masonry among Black men began during the War of Independence, when Prince Hall and fourteen other free black men were initiated into Lodge # 441. In 1784, Prince petitioned the Grand Lodge of England, for a warrant or charter. The warrant was granted in 1784 under the name of African Lodge, # 459 Prince Hall was the first Master of the lodge which was organized in, 1787. The warrant to African Lodge # 459 of Boston is the most significant and highly prized document known to the Prince Hall Masonic Fraternity. African Lodge allowed itself to slip into arrears in the late 1790's and was stricken from the rolls it declared its independence and began to call itself African Grand Lodge # 1. 


In 1869 a fire destroyed Massachusetts' Grand Lodge headquarters and a number of its priceless records. The charter in its metal tube was in the Grand Lodge chest. The tube saved the charter from the flames, The original Charter # 459 has long since been made secure between heavy plate glass and is kept in a fire-proof vault in a downtown Boston bank. The Prince Hall Grand Lodge has spawned over 44 other Grand Lodges. Today, the Prince Hall fraternity has over 4,500 lodges worldwide, forming 44 independent jurisdictions with a membership of over 300,000 masons. 


Prince Hall is buried in a cemetery overlooking the Charlestown naval yard in Boston's north end. His grave is situated near a large tree, his wife's grave is directly behind his. The site is marked by a broken column; a monument erected 88 years after his death by Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge F. & A.M. of Massachusetts. 


Still today, believers in the Deity and travelers from all walks of life can be seen winding their way to that sacred spot to pay homage at the final resting place of the first Grand Master of the "colored" Grand Lodge of Masons. This great Mason, Statesman, and Soldier, having traveled to that undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns; remains as the pillar of wisdom, strength, and beauty among all Masons today.