upload image

Prince Hall and African Lodge

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: [unknown]
Profile manager: Tony Pope private message [send private message]
This page has been accessed 1,637 times.




This is an addendum to the biography of Prince Hall and his lodge.

For general information about Freemasonry, its organisation and terminology, please refer to Freemasonry and the links given there.


There are two main versions of when, where, and how Prince Hall was initiated into Freemasonry, and each has its adherents. One depends on contemporary oral history, with some support from documents and later research; the other relies on what appear to be contemporary documents, supported by recent research. Both are outlined briefly, below.

Version A
The traditional account of the initiation of Prince Hall and others is based on a letter from the Boston-born clergyman and historian Jeremy Belknap (1744–1798) to Judge Henry St. George Tucker (1752–1827) of Virginia in 1795:

... he is Grand Master of a Lodge of Free Masons composed wholly of blacks and distinguished by the name of African Lodge. It was begun in this town while it was occupied by the British Troops in 1775, some of whom held a lodge and initiated a number of blacks. After the peace they sent to England and obtained a charter, under the authority of the Duke of Cumberland and signed by the Earl of Effingham.[1]

One hundred years later, Judge William Upton and two other senior members of the (white) Grand Lodge of the State of Washington had cause to investigate "the legitimacy of the Masonry existing among the negroes of America." In his quest for truth and accuracy, Upton traveled the breadth of the continent, to Massachusetts and elsewhere, to view original documents. In May 1899, he found three manuscript documents, among others, in the possession of members of John T Hilton Lodge, of Lynn, Massachusetts, the most important of which Upton calls "Prince Hall’s Letter Book," a bound volume of about 300 foolscap pages in Prince Hall’s handwriting. Upton created a condensation of this book, a mixture of summaries and verbatim transcripts of individual letters, which he published in 1900.[2] Later researchers appear to have relied exclusively on Upton’s published work rather than the original book.

Upton’s report to his Grand Lodge (1899) includes the following:

The origin of Masonry among the negroes of the United States was as follows:
'On March 6, 1775, an army Lodge attached to one of the regiments stationed under General Gage, in or near Boston, Mass., initiated PRINCE HALL and fourteen other colored men of Boston into the mysteries of Freemasonry. From that beginning, with small additions from foreign countries, sprang the Masonry among the negroes of America.’[3]
Which regiment? After referring to one of the documents relied on for "Version B" (below), headed "[By] Marster Batt wose made these brothers," plus a list of British regiments supplied in an appendix to volume 1 of Henry Belcher’s The First American Civil War, George Draffen of Newington ascertained from records of the Grand Lodge of Ireland that in 1765 Irish Lodge 441 was warranted to meet in the 38th Regiment of Foot (1st Battalion South Staffordshires), and that John Batt was registered as a member of the lodge on 2 May 1771. The warrant was returned to the Grand Lodge of Ireland in 1840. No minutes of the lodge could be found, and it was impossible to say if or when John Batt was Master of the lodge. John Batt was recorded in the Muster Rolls of the regiment from 1759 until his discharge from the British army when the regiment was at Staten Island in 1777. Ireland has no record of the registration of the men initiated by John Batt.[4]

How, then, did William Upton determine the exact date of initiation of Prince Hall and "fourteen other colored men of Boston?" The 38th of Foot was in the Boston area from 1774 to March 1776, and Jeremy Belknap (in 1795) implies that the initiation occurred in the year 1775, but does not give a month or day. Although Upton does not specifically refer to the document headed "[By] Marster Batt wose made these brothers," it is possible that he saw the original handwritten manuscript when he visited Boston in the late 19th century. The document bears a date "March 6th 177[?]," with the last digit subject to dispute.[5]

The account of another incident concerning Prince Hall in 1775 may afford some confirmation that the initiation took place prior to 17 June of that year. In a modern article about the 18th-century St. Andrew’s Lodge of Boston and the Scottish Provincial Grand Master, Joseph Warren, we are informed:
One of the more interesting stories that concern Warren was his interaction with Bro. Prince Hall. Brother Hall was a free black man who wanted to form a Masonic lodge. He entered into talks with Warren who (it is said) was going to give Hall a warrant to open his lodge. This fact is noted in the lodge minutes. Warren believed in this and, unfortunately, was killed before he gave Hall the warrant.[6]

If Warren was going to give Hall a warrant, the clear inference is that Warren was satisfied that Hall and his brethren had already been initiated into Freemasonry. Warren was killed in the Battle of Bunker Hill on 17 June 1775.

"Version A" has been adopted by most black American Freemasons in the 19th and 20th centuries and also by some white American Freemasons. The proportion of whites who accept this version has increased steadily since the late 1980s.

Version B
The alternative story is based mainly on a number of manuscript documents apparently compiled by Prince Hall and his followers, and preserved by their successors. These were sometimes made available to white researchers and in 1950 were microfilmed.[5] The contents were generally used by white Freemasons to demonstrate that Prince Hall and his followers were not genuine Freemasons, and therefore should be excluded from genuine lodges. Black researchers responded by pointing to discrepancies in the documents, and deeming them unreliable.

However, in the second decade of the 21st century a young black Freemason obtained a copy of these microfilmed documents and sought digital copies of other source documents, including military records and local taxation records. He consulted appropriate publications, researchers, Grand Lodges, libraries and museums, in America and elsewhere, and came to the conclusion that the year of initiation of Prince Hall and his companions was 1778, not 1775, and that the initiation was not performed in a military lodge, but by a single individual, John Batt.

Then, in 2016, he (John L. Hairston, a member of Harmony Lodge No.2, under the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington) published Landmarks of our Fathers, a critical analysis of the start and origin of African Lodge No.1, the first of a proposed series of studies. This volume, which the author refers to as "The Preamble," covers the period to 1784 and the issue of a warrant by the Grand Lodge of England.

Two of the many digital images in Hairston’s book are of great significance in determining the date and details of the initiation of Prince Hall and his companions:

One is a single page manuscript, headed "Boston March 6 1778 [the date is clear] Enterd a printices | Fellow Crafs | Marsters Maid By The wrthey and amabel Grandmaster John Batt," and divided into three columns. This document is described by Hairston as "The March 6, 1778, Register of the members of African Lodge No.1" (shown on pages 66 & 69). It lists "Entered Apprentices, Fellow Crafts and Master Masons" (with dates from 1778 to 1782) in several different handwritings, but some words are illegible, or difficult to read.

The other is a single page manuscript titled "[?] Marster Batt wose made these brothers" (shown on pages 103 & 129). Hairston sees the first word [?] as a capital "G;" others have interpreted it as "By." This document bears a date in the top right corner, "March 6 [blank space] 177[?]." On the left side of the page is a list of 15 names, with Prince Hall at the head of the list. Below all this is what appears to be a financial record, difficult to read, and difficult to interpret. It might be fees paid (or owing) to John Batt for his services, and it might indicate that he initiated all 15 men listed, passed some (perhaps 7) to the degree of Fellow Craft, and raised perhaps 3 to the degree of Master Mason. The key issue is the date. Various claims have been made that the original document was altered, in modern fountain-pen ink, before the microfilm was made in 1950.[5] The alteration is to the last digit of the year, which may have been illegible even before it was interfered with. Hairston and others see the original date as 1778.[7]

Hairston accepts the validity of the main conclusions of (white) researchers Harold van Buren Voorhis (in Freemasonry among Colored Men in the USA, 1974, apparently unpublished), and John M. Sherman & Henry Wilson Coil, A Documentary Account of Prince Hall and other Black Fraternal Orders (Missouri Lodge of Research,1982), but goes further in establishing the whereabouts and activities of John Batt and Prince Hall in the period 1776–78. In support of his claims and interpretations, Hairston cites 18th-century sources and supplies digital images of original documents.

He shows that John Batt and a man named Joseph Dunckerley were serving in the 38th of Foot in Massachusetts in 1774. Batt remained with the regiment, and is shown on the muster rolls to have been at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on garrison duty in 1776. The regiment moved from Halifax to Staten Island, New York, and their records show that he was discharged with effect from 23 February 1777. Dunckerley, however, deserted the regiment "since the commencement of hostilities," and joined the Continental Army. By May 1776 he was a 2nd lieutenant in Colonel Crafts's Regiment of Artillery, the same regiment to which Prince Hall delivered some drumheads a year later. In 1777, Dunckerley was appointed adjutant in Colonel David Henley’s Regiment. On 20 February 1778 he recruited John Batt to serve as a sergeant in Henley’s Regiment. Dunckerley resigned in May 1778,[8] and Batt deserted from the regiment the following month.[9]

Hairston accepts that the Prince Hall manumitted in 1770 by William Hall is the "Masonic" Prince Hall, and states that in his will of 1771 William Hall, who was born at Medford, left Prince Hall a section of land in Medford,[10] a few miles from Boston. Medford town records show Prince Hall paying town taxes as a non-resident up to at least 1779, which is consistent with his having property at Medford but residing in Boston. Medford town records also show a bounty of 60 dollars being paid to Prince Hall upon enlistment in the Continental Army on 20 June 1778 for a period of nine months, in Captain Joseph Daniels’ Company of Colonel Thomas Nixon’s 6th Massachusetts Regiment.[11] His enlistment record describes him as "Age 30 | Stature 5-3;" his signature on receipt of the bounty is remarkably similar to that on several of the letters recorded in "Prince Hall’s Letter Book" and those in possession of the Grand Lodge of England. Private Prince Hall was discharged on 7 March 1779.[12]

The document Hairston calls "The March 6, 1778, Register of the members of African Lodge No.1" indicates a number of degree workings in 1778 and 1779. It will be an interesting exercise to consider who could have presided at the meetings, given the military commitments of John Batt and Prince Hall, and Batt’s desertion; see below.

African Lodge No.1, 177?–1784

According to tradition, Prince Hall and his companions formed a lodge called "African Lodge No.1" on 3 July 1776, and this lodge subsequently obtained a warrant or charter from the Grand Lodge of England as "African Lodge No.459 of Boston." The existence of African Lodge No.1 is not disputed, but the date of commencement is contentious.

In 1784 Prince Hall drafted a letter to an English Freemason named William Moody, and in that letter he stated:

. . . this lodge hath been founded almost eight years . . .,

and dated the draft "March [?], 1784."[13] The letter he sent to Moody, which is now in the possession of the United Grand Lodge of England, is dated "June 30 1784."[14] Neither the date of the draft nor the date of the actual letter contradicts the traditional date of foundation of the lodge, 3 July 1776. Indeed, they support it.

But if Prince Hall and his companions were not initiated until 1778, the lodge could not have been founded on the traditional date.

On the other hand, the two key documents which purport to list those initiated on 6 March 1778 do not have identical lists. The page headed "[?] Marster Batt wose made these brothers" dated "March 6 [blank space] 177[?]" (the final digit is disputed),[15] contains 15 names in a single column. These are often referred to as "the immortal 15." The other page, clearly dated "Boston March 6 1778" has names in three columns, for Entered Apprentices, Fellow Crafts and Master Masons,[16] and is named by Hairston "The March 6, 1778, Register of the members of African Lodge No.1." As he points out, the 1778 Register is in more than one handwriting and several other dates have been inserted beside individual names, indicating when they were "maid marster."

The "immortal 15" (allowing for spelling variations) were: Prince Hall, Cyrus Forbes, Bristen Henson, Thomas Sanderson, Prince Taylor, Cato Speain, Boston Smith, Peter Best (or Betts), Forten Howard, Prince Reed, John Carter, Peter Freeman, Benjamin Tiler, Cuff Bufform and Richard Tilley.

Only eleven of "the immortal 15" can be readily identified in the 1778 Register. Eight of these eleven appear in all three columns, indicating that they have received all three Craft degrees, and bear the date when they became Master Masons. Of the three who do not appear in all columns,
Prince Hall is listed at the head of the third column, "Grand Marster" on an illegible day and month of 1778,
Peter Freeman is listed in columns one and two, and marked "Passed this life;"
and Cuff Bufform received only the First Degree. A later document shows that Brother Bufform was still a member of the lodge, as an Entered Apprentice, in 1787.[17]
Some of the names on the Register which do not appear with "the immortal 15" are also listed as Master Masons on various dates.

If four "immortals" do not appear at all in the Register of 6 March 1778, it might suggest that the document in which they do appear, "[By] Marster Batt wose made these brothers," was created at an earlier date, perhaps even on 6 March 1775, and that these four were no longer members of the lodge in 1778. The four not found on the 1778 Register were: John Carter, Cato Speain, Benjamin Tiler, and Richard Tilley. However, John Carter, a Master Mason, was listed as a member of the lodge in 1787;[18] his omission from the 1778 Register may require a different explanation.

The 1778 Register refers to degree workings on several occasions in May (14th, 28th & 30th) and June (2nd, 20th & 23rd), but in each case the year is uncertain. As Hairston points out, when John Batt deserted from the Continental Army on 10 June 1778, he would have left Boston (and probably the colony) immediately. Prince Hall joined the Continental Army on 20 June 1778 and served until discharged on 7 March 1779, but was able to attend at least three lodge meetings during that time.

This is evident from a further document, a series of rough notes of meetings between December 1778 and 6 May 1779.[19]

The first of these meetings was on 2[?] December (Hairston reads it as the 29th, but others may see it as the 27th), when Prince Hall made Lancaster Hill an Entered Apprentice. Brother Hill appears in the Register of 6 March 1778 as Lanchester Hill, in the Fellow Craft column (no date) and the Master Mason column (June 23, year illegible), and held the office of Treasurer.

The second meeting held while Prince Hall was in the army was on 30 December 1778 and involved two of the "immortal 15," Prince Reed and Richard Tilley (here recorded as Richard Tillage). Precisely how they were involved is not clear, but Bro. Reed may have been made a Fellow Craft.

The third meeting was on 1 March 1779, when a brother was raised to the degree of Master Mason. His name is recorded simply as "Quentes," but in the 1778 Register he appears as Quintes Gill.

The term "Grand Master" is often misused, to distinguish between a Master Mason and the Master of a lodge. When African Lodge No.1 was formed remains uncertain, and whether John Batt or Prince Hall was the first Master of the lodge is equally uncertain, but the keeping of "minutes" (however rough) of meetings is a good indication that the lodge was in existence in December 1778, and that Prince Hall at that date was Master of the lodge. Technically, in the usage of those days, he was Right Worshipful Master. But not Grand Master.

When Prince Hall wrote to William Moody in 1784, he mentioned a "permit." In the draft letter dated March 1784 his words were:

this Lodge hath been founded almost eight years and we have had only a Permit to Walk on St. John’s Day and to Bury our Dead in manner and form.[20]

He did not name the source of the "permit," but others have assumed it was issued by John Batt.

In the letter which was actually sent to Moody, dated June 1784, Hall wrote:

this lodge has been founded almost this eight years, and had no warrant yet but only a permit from Grand Master Rowe to walk on St. John’s Days and to bury our dead in form which we now enjoy.[21]

John Rowe (1715–1787) was a member of St. John’s Lodge of Boston, under the Grand Lodge of England, and served as Provincial Grand Master from 1768 until his death in 1787. He had authority to form lodges and issue warrants. Whether Prince Hall asked him for a warrant and was refused, but was given the temporary substitute of this permit, is not known. It is clear that Prince Hall and African Lodge did not abide by the restrictions of the permit.

The main purpose of the letter to Moody was to ask him to support an application to the Grand Master and Grand Lodge of England, for a charter for African Lodge. Moody complied with the request, and a warrant was issued on 29 September 1784. There were difficulties in transferring payment for the warrant and delivering it from London to Boston,[22] but in May 1787 Prince Hall proudly announced its arrival.[23]

With the letters he wrote to officers of the Grand Lodge of England in response to receipt of the warrant was a copy of the lodge bylaws, signed by Prince Hall, dated "in the Lodge Rume Boston Januery 15 5779 and in the year of our Lord 1779," and a "Lest of the membres," signed by Prince Hall on 17 May 1787.[24]

The date of the bylaws indicates that there was a fourth meeting of the lodge while he was serving with the Continental Army.

The list of members shows (in addition to Prince Hall) 18 Master Masons, 4 Fellow Crafts and 11 Entered Apprentices. Only nine of the "immortal 15" appear on this 1787 list of 35 members: Prince Hall, plus seven Master Masons (Brothers Forbes, Sanderson, Henson, Taylor. Smith, Howard, Carter) and one Entered Apprentice (Bro Bufform).

The officers of the lodge were:

  • Prince Hall, Right Worshipful Master;
  • Boston Smith, Senior Warden;
  • Thomas Sanderson, Junior Warden;
  • Cato Underwood, Secretary;
  • Jube Hill, Treasurer;
  • John Brown, Senior Deacon;
  • George Medelton, Junior Deacon;
  • Richard Pollard, Marshall; and
  • Ceser Spear (acting as) Past Master;

PLUS two Fellow Crafts:

  • Sipeo Dolton, Clerk; and
  • Pompey Eads, Tiler;

AND two Entered Apprentices:

  • James Smeeth and
  • James Horkens, Stewards.

No record has yet been found of any statement by Prince Hall of the date or surrounding circumstances of the initiation of himself and his fourteen companions. He did not refer to the event in his application to the Grand Lodge of England for a warrant or charter for African Lodge, and there is no record of any inquiry by the Grand Lodge.[25] Nor is there any evidence of official complaint by other lodges contemporaneously with the granting of the warrant. Any irregularities prior to the granting of the warrant were "forgiven" by its issue, and Lodge 459 of Boston, under the Grand Lodge of England, began with "a clean slate."

African Lodge No.459, 1784–1807

Some of the activities of African Lodge No.459 prior to the death of Prince Hall in December 1807 are described in his profile. They include:

  • the correspondence with the Grand Lodge of England between 1784 and 1806;
  • the initiation of the Methodist minister John Marrant, his appointment as Chaplain of the lodge, and his sermon on St.John the Baptist’s Day, 1789 (which was followed by Prince Hall’s "charges" in 1792 and 1797);
  • the offer of assistance to Governor Bowdoin regarding Shays’ Rebellion;
  • the participation of members of the lodge in petitions regarding slavery (1777), a ‘return to Africa’ (1787), and the kidnapping of three black men, including a member of the lodge, to be sold into slavery in the West Indies (1787);


  • the "cloning" of African Lodge No.459 of Philadelphia, and African Lodge No.459 of Providence in 1797.

The "cloning" of these two lodges, in Philadelphia and Providence, presents Masonic historians with yet another problem. They can point to somewhat similar actions by early lodges of other jurisdictions, in America and elsewhere, for justification, but these do not alter the fact that Prince Hall was not authorized by the warrant for African Lodge No.459 of Boston to charter other lodges, and he had no other authority under the Grand Lodge of England. If the Grand Lodge had learned of it during his lifetime, probably he and the lodge would have been sanctioned, perhaps even to the extent of his expulsion and the cancellation of the warrant. Fortunately for him, and for the fraternity which developed from his initiative, this did not happen.

In the case of Philadelphia, events are fairly well documented. There are two letters on the subject in Prince Hall’s Letter Book.[26] The first is a copy of a letter dated 2 March 1797 from a Peter Mantore of Philadelphia, explaining that there are a group of eleven black Freemasons in Philadelphia (five of them Master Masons), seeking a warrant from African Lodge. The letter was addressed to "Mr Hall, Master of the African Lodge | Dear Brother of the African Lodge in Boston" and included the statement "we had rather be under our dear bretheren [sic] in Boston than the Pennsylvania Lodge." The draft response, dated 22 March 1797, was addressed to "Mr Peter Mantore," and reads:

Sir:—I received your letter of the 2 which informs me that there are a number of blacks in your city who have received the light of Masonry, and I hope they got it in a just and lawful manner. If so, dear brother, we are willing to set you at work under our charter and Lodge No.459, from London; under that authority, and by the name of the African Lodge, we hereby and herein give you license to assemble and work as aforesaid under that denomination as in the sight and fear of God. I would advise you not to take in any at present till your officers and your Master be in[stalled] in the Grand Lodge, which we are willing to [do] when he thinks convenient, and he may receive a full warrant instead of a permit.

The next reliable document is a minute book of Lodge 459 of Philadelphia, dated from 27 December 1797 to 15 February 1800, which was examined by William Upton, who included details in his paper "Prince Hall’s Letter Book," published in 1900.[27] The first entry reads "Minutes of the African Lodge, No.459 | Closed," which suggests that there had been previous minutes, perhaps loose-leaf and inserted between the covers of the current minute book. These may have included a meeting attended by Prince Hall and members of African Lodge of Boston, as foreshadowed by Prince Hall’s letter to Peter Mantore, but that is speculation not supported by evidence.

The first meeting actually recorded in the minute book was held on St.John’s Day, 27 December 1797. The Master, the Rev. Absalom Jones, opened the lodge in the first degree; he said a prayer, gave a sermon and a short lecture, then "called off" the lodge for refreshment, and the brethren "dinned Very agreeably." After dinner they returned to the lodge room. The lodge was "called on," and a new Master (Peter Richmond) and his team of six officers (Senior and Junior Wardens, Senior and Junior Deacons, Secretary and Treasurer) were installed.

The minute book leaves us with another minor mystery. The name "Peter Mantore" does not appear among the list of 22 brethren who attended the installation on 27 December 1797, nor among the list of 42 members of the lodge at the back of the book, which includes the names of seven deceased brethren.

Among the occasions where Prince Hall is styled "Grand Master" are two certificates issued to members of African Lodge No.459 of Boston. They appear to be standard certificates printed for use of lodges generally, with spaces for various details to be added, and the certificate to be signed by the Master, Senior and Junior Wardens, and Secretary of the issuing lodge. They do not require the word "Grand" to be inserted anywhere on the document, but both purport to have been signed by Grand Officers.

William Upton summarized an entry in "Prince Hall’s Letter Book" as follows:

(28) Masonic Certificate ‘Boston, February 16, 1792
‘And the light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not.’
Bro. John Dodd having requested a ‘certificate’, ‘We . . . recommend him, as we found him, a true and lawful brother Master Mason, and his behaviour with us was orderly [and] decent.’ Dated ‘at the sign of the Golden [Fleece] in Water Street, Boston.’
Signed, ‘Prince Hall, G.M. | Cyrus Forbes, S.G.W. | George Middleton, J.G.W.’[28]
Upton commented: "Appears to be in a form in common use—except as to the titles of the officers—at that day."

The other certificate is now in the possession of the Houghton Library, at Harvard University, and may be viewed on-line here. From the printed wording, such certificates are designed for use by American lodges of Free and Accepted Masons, to certify that the bearer has been regularly initiated into the (specified) degree of Freemasonry, and is a true and faithful Brother "recommended to the Favor and Protection of all Free and Accepted Masons wheresoever dispersed." The certificate requires the seal of the lodge and the signatures of the Master, both Wardens, and Secretary of the lodge.

The appropriate spaces have been completed in what is now badly faded ink, and indicate that the certificate is from the African Lodge of Boston, in the State of Massachusetts, stating that Richard P.G. Wright has been regularly initiated into the three degrees of Masonry. The seal may have become detached. There is an irregularly-shaped brown mark in the top left corner, with three rectangular pale-blue patches in the left margin, where a seal and ribbon may have been affixed.

The name "Richard P.G. Wright" is written in a different handwriting, in a more ornate script, in heavy black ink, superimposed on a light brown stain. This is the abolitionist Richard Wright (c.1773-1847), known in his youth as Prince Wright,[29] and almost certainly the "Prince Right of Providance" mentioned in the letter sent by Prince Hall to the Grand Lodge of England, dated 24 May 1798, 12th in a list of 13 Masons made between 1792 and 1798.[30] He moved to Schenectady, New York, and was the father of the Rev. Theodore Sedgwick Wright (1797-1847), also an abolitionist.[31] They were both affiliated members of the otherwise all-white St. George’s Lodge No.6, of Schenectady, New York, from 1844 until their deaths in 1847.[32]

The certificate was dated "June 23 1799," and beneath the date is a board with four lines for the signatures of the lodge officers: —M —SW —JW —Sc’y. The four lines contain the following names in the same faded handwriting:
  • Prince Hall G[M]
  • Gorge Medelton G[SW]
  • Jube Hill [JW]
  • William Smith [Sc’y]

Only the first two names are followed by the letter "G." "Gorge Medelton"[sic] appears as a Master Mason and Senior Deacon in Prince Hall’s 1787 list of members,[33] and "George Middleton J.G.W." in William Upton’s transcription of the certificate for John Dodd in the Letter Book. Jube Hill is listed as a Fellow Craft and Master Mason in the 1778 Register of African Lodge No.1,[34] and as Master Mason and Treasurer in the 1787 list of members. William Smith has yet to be located in earlier documents.

When Prince Hall wrote to the Grand Lodge of England back in 1787, gratefully acknowledging receipt of the warrant for Lodge 459, he asked if the warrant authorised the creation of a second lodge, if the number of members justified it. He received no answer, and did not pose the question again. In his subsequent letters to Grand Lodge, he made no mention of the two lodges he had authorised, in Philadelphia and Providence; he always wrote to Grand Lodge as Master of African Lodge No.459 of Boston, not as Provincial Grand Master of anywhere.

When the Grand Secretary wrote in August 1792,[35] he asked Prince Hall whether certain lodges still existed, ‘as we have never heard from them since the commencement of the late war in America, or indeed, long before: and in case they have ceased to meet, which I rather apprehend, they ought to be erased from our list of lodges’. Prince Hall replied that two of the lodges had amalgamated, and that another met regularly ‘as some of them hath visited our Lodge, and heard it from their own mouths’.[36]

Prince Hall omitted to mention that lodges in Massachusetts had formed their own Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and the Grand Secretary did not advise him that the English lodges had been renumbered, so that African Lodge was now number 370. Consequently, African Lodge continued to refer to itself as No.459. Modern writers sometimes refer to it as African Lodge No.459/370.

With the death of Prince Hall in 1807, the lodge mourned his passing and continued in isolation for another 20 years, under a succession of Masters, as the only black lodge in Massachusetts. Several of the Masters of African Lodge 459 of Boston, following the example of Prince Hall, chartered a lodge outside the State. These were nominally ‘under’ the mother lodge, but tended to go their own way. In 1815, three of them formed their own Grand Lodge in Pennsylvania, and in 1826 Boyer Lodge of New York (which had been chartered in 1812 by African Lodge of Boston, as African Lodge of New York) asked for an ‘‘independent’’ charter. African Lodge of Boston seem to have decided that to grant an independent charter, they themselves needed to be independent, and in June 1827 publicly declared themselves so. They formed themselves into a one-lodge Grand Lodge, African Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, with John T. Hilton as Grand Master.

How African Grand Lodge became the present Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, how African American lodges and Grand Lodges developed throughout the United States of America and beyond, and how those of ‘Prince Hall Affiliation’ (PHA) are at last overcoming the objections and prejudices of white American Grand Lodges, is a story for another time and perhaps another ‘Free Space’. But one further topic needs to be explored here: William Grimshaw and his distortion of the history of Prince Hall and African Lodge.

Grimshaw’s Patent

William Henry Grimshaw (1848-1927) was the author of Official History of Freemasonry among the colored people of North America, published in 1903. He was elected Grand Master, of what is now called the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of the District of Columbia, three years later.

Questions as to the legitimacy and ‘recognition’ of Prince Hall Freemasonry were very much to the fore at this time, with William Upton’s investigation and report to the (white) Grand Lodge of Washington State, and that Grand Lodge’s favourable response, followed by the uproar from other white Grand Lodges above and below the Mason-Dixon Line, then Upton’s publication of Light on a Dark Subject (Seattle, 1899), and his article ‘Prince Hall’s Letter Book’ in the scholarly publication of the English Masonic research lodge, Quatuor Coronati (Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, 1900). It was in this context that Grimshaw produced his Official History, designed to provide a plausible account of Prince Hall’s origin and an answer to all the allegations of Masonic irregularity lodged against Prince Hall, African Lodge, and their successors.

Grimshaw’s Official History has the appearance of being official (written by a high-ranking Freemason and recommended by several other high-ranking Freemasons) and an authentic history (written authoritatively, sometimes quoting named sources—some of them accurately), in a readable style. Grimshaw’s account found ready acceptance among his contemporaries. Some of his unproved statements, and even proven falsehoods, are still retained as fact in Grand Lodge ‘histories’, quoted (with or without attribution) by other writers, and posted on numerous websites.

A prime example of an unproven statement by Grimshaw is his account of Prince Hall’s birth and early years:[37]
‘Prince Hall was born September 12th, 1748, at Bridgetown, Barbados, British West Indies. His father, Thomas Prince Hall, was an Englishman, and his mother a free woman of French descent. His father was engaged in the leather business, the pursuit of which does not seem to have been very lucrative. . . . When twelve years old young Hall was placed as an apprentice to a leather worker. He made rapid progress in the trade. His greatest desire, however, was to visit America.’

This charming tale neatly disposes of the allegation that Prince Hall was not ‘freeborn’ (a Masonic requirement of that time and place), and negates the theory that he was the Prince Hall who was a servant (aka slave) of leather dresser William Hall of Boston for 21 years before his manumission in 1770,[38] and that is how Prince Hall came to follow the same occupation. Unfortunately, Grimshaw did not offer even a hint of evidence or any source of information in support of his version, and modern researchers have been unable to remedy that defect.

The best and most compelling example of deliberate fabrication by Grimshaw is his claim that Prince Hall was appointed Provincial Grand Master by the Prince of Wales, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England (known as the ‘Moderns’) in 1791. If that were true, it would not only vindicate Prince Hall’s actions in granting charters to lodges in Philadelphia and Providence in 1797, and the use of the title ‘Grand Master’ in several documents, but also would place African Lodge on terms of equality with other Provincial Grand Lodges.

In support of Grimshaw’s claim, he published the full wording of what he described as ‘the Masonic authority of Prince Hall for serving as Provincial Grand Master’, under the heading ‘Copy of Deputation to Prince Hall’; It purported to be issued by command of HRH the Prince of Wales, Grand Master, who nominated, ordained, constituted and appointed:[39]
‘worshipful and well beloved Brother Prince Hall, Provincial Grand Master of North America and Dominions and Territories thereunto belonging with full power and authority to nominate and appoint his Deputy Grand Master and Grand Wardens. And, we do also hereby impower our said Provincial Grand Master for the time being for us and in our place and stead to constitute the Brethren (Free and Accepted Masons) now residing or who shall hereafter reside in those parts into one or more regular Lodge or Lodges, as he shall think fit, and as often as occasion shall require.’

After listing at length further powers and duties, the document concluded with the words: ‘Given under our Hand and Seal of Office at London the 27th day of January, 1791 and of Masonry 5791. | By the Grand Master's Command | Rawdon, Acting G. M.’.

Grimshaw then explains: ‘The preceding document was found among the old manuscripts of African Lodge, No. 459, of Pennsylvania, Peter Richmond, its first secretary. There is no doubt but what Prince Hall gave them a copy of his authority when he established the Lodge in 1797.’[40]

He adds: ‘It is very likely that Prince Hall was appointed Provincial Grand Master by Lord Rawdon, although the records of the English do not show this to be a fact. There is positive proof, however, that he performed the duties of Grand Master and was recognized as such by both white and colored Masons of his time. As to the genuineness of Prince Hall’s patent . . . ‘, and goes on to cite Belknap’s description of Prince Hall as ‘Grand Master of a Lodge of Free Masons’ (discussed under ‘Initiation’, above) and certificates issued by Prince Hall, signed ‘GM’ (such as John Dodd’s, above), which, at best, are evidence of perception or behaviour, not evidence of authority.

In similar vein, Grimshaw refers to the letter from the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of England to Prince Hall in August 1792 (above), requesting information about other English lodges in North America. Upton gave only a summary of this letter in ‘Prince Hall’s Letter Book’ (1900), but in Light on a dark subject (1899) he published it in full. Grimshaw quotes the full letter, verbatim, except for one significant detail, the salutation. Grimshaw wrote:[41] ‘After the organization of the Grand Lodge, the following letter was received from England, addressed to Prince Hall: | “London, August 20. 1792. | M. W. Bro., Prince Hall,” | . . . ‘, (‘Most Worshipful Brother’, applicable only to those of Grand Master rank), whereas Upton transcribed the greeting as ‘Right Worshipful Brother’, appropriate at that time for the Master of a Lodge.[42]

It was not until 1976 that Grimshaw’s deceit was fully and publicly demonstrated, with the publication of George Draffen’s paper on ‘Prince Hall Freemasonry’, in the Transactions of Quatuor Coronati Lodge.[43] As is the custom of this lodge, copies of a research paper to be presented in lodge were provided to members in advance of presentation, to enable them to do their own research and to comment on the paper after its presentation. Among those who commented on Bro Draffen’s paper was Bro Terence Haunch, Librarian of the Library of the United Grand Lodge of England, and he brought with him a dozen exhibits, including: the Grand Lodge Register of Warrants and Patents, 1784-1812 (showing the entry for the warrant for African Lodge, but NO record of a patent for Prince Hall); a letter from Prince Hall, dated 16 May 1787, with a postscript on the reverse, asking if the charter empowered him to set up a second lodge; and three documents relating to Grimshaw.

The first of these was an unsigned letter, dated 5 May 1902, addressed by name to the Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England, typed on official notepaper of the Librarian’s Office of the Library of Congress. The (printed) return address had been altered (in ink) by deleting the words ‘The Librarian of Congress’ and substituting the name ‘W.H. Grimshaw’. (Note: Grimshaw was employed as a doorkeeper and attendant at the Library of Congress from 1897.) The letter states: ‘I have the honor to enclose herewith a copy of a patent granted Prince Hall, by H.R.H. Francis, Earl of Moira, Pro. Grand Master, dated January 27, 1790. Will you kindly have the records of H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, who was G.M. at that time, and see if there can be found any trace of the same. It is very evident that such a document was issued by the Pro. Grand Master for I find mention of it in an old manuscript of one of the old Lodges of 1797. . .’.

Bro Haunch described the enclosed ‘copy of a patent’ as ‘. . . no more than a clumsy forgery. Apart from phraseology not true to type, the document contains a number of woefully blatant anachronisms in styles and titles, both civil and masonic.’

When the letter and enclosure were received in the Grand Secretary’s office in 1902, there were passed to Bro Henry Sadler (an early member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, and Librarian of the Library of the United Grand Lodge of England) for investigation and comment. Bro Sadler wrote his comments on the reverse of the ‘copy of a patent’, in the form of a draft letter of reply to Grimshaw.

All three documents (the unsigned letter from Grimshaw, the enclosed ‘copy of a patent’, and Sadler’s draft reply) are reproduced in volume 89 of Ars Quatuor Coronatorum at pages 87-89.

Grimshaw’s two versions of the same ‘copy of a patent’ (the one dated 27 January 1790, which he sent to England in 1902, and the other dated 27 January 1791, in his book published in 1903) are remarkably different in style and content. Bro Haunch compared the ‘revised’ version with the text of the ‘deputations’ (patents) issued to Daniel Cox for New York (1730) and to Henry Price for New England (1733), and concluded that Grimshaw had ‘combined sections from these two prototypes to produce’ his second version of a patent for Prince Hall.

The fabrication of an English patent (‘dispensation’) for Prince Hall as a Provincial Grand Master, dated 27 January 1791, was an adjunct to a wilder claim, that on 24 June of the same year African Lodge was formed into an ‘independent and sovereign’ Grand Lodge. Curiously, the story of the formation of the Grand Lodge precedes that of the English patent in Grimshaw’s account.

Under the heading ‘Organisation of the first Grand Lodge in Massachusetts’ Grimshaw wrote:[44]
‘On June 24th, 1791, a general assembly of the Craft was held at Masonic Hall, Golden Fleece, Water Street, Boston, Mass., for the purpose of organizing a Grand Lodge of Masons for Massachusetts, etc. African Lodge, No. 459, declared itself by the assumption of powers, duties and responsibilities of a Grand Lodge, independent and sovereign, holding jurisdiction absolute and entire, throughout the United States, and a provincial jurisdiction in other states and countries, recognizing at the same time the mother Grand Lodge of London, England.’

He goes on to list all the Grand Officers for the Masonic year, and claims: ‘The grand officers were installed in ample form by G. M. Prince Hall, assisted by brethren from St. Andrew's Lodge (white)’. He follows this with the story of the Patent allegedly issued earlier that year.

No contemporary evidence has been found in the minutes of any lodge. black or white.
Alton Roundtree, current editor of the Phylaxis, writes:[45]
‘The minutes of African Lodge No.459 do not reflect the formation of a Grand Lodge in 1791. The words ‘grand lodge’ [are] not mentioned in the minutes of African Grand Lodge until 1827. Also there is no mention of a grand lodge in the newspapers of that time.‘ .

Ironically, Grimshaw wrote, in the preface to his book,[46] ‘In presenting this work, the author is fully conscious of its literary defects, but dare not sacrifice the truth of history even for literary excellence’.

For those who are not yet convinced that Grimshaw cannot be relied upon, two recently published books are recommended reading:

In The Prince Hall Story Revisited (2020), John B. Williams sets out to convince those responsible for sanctioning, writing, or publishing ‘histories’ of Prince Hall and Prince Hall Freemasonry, in print or online, to purge such histories of falsehoods and misleading information, with particular emphasis on Grimshaw’s Official History. Williams writes:[47] ‘The goal here is to fortify Prince Hall masons with the confidence to acknowledge and reject false statements, even when these statements are carved in stone and memorialized on bronze historical markers’. In recent years, as President of the Phylaxis Society and as Editor of its research magazine, Phylaxis, John Williams has led that society’s campaign to highlight incorrect and misleading information. In this, he is joined by Alton Roundtree, the current editor of Phylaxis.

Fact Checking William H. Grimshaw’s Official History of Freemasonry Among The Colored People of North America (2019), by Alton Roundtree, is an essential reference for anyone compiling a history of Prince Hall and his fraternity, to determine fact from fiction. He is an author, editor and publisher with a reputation for thorough research and meticulous attention to detail. In evaluating Grimshaw’s work and pointing out the errors, he uses only sources dated before the publication of Grimshaw’s Official History in 1903.
As always, Roundtree gives his readers the bonus of appendixes containing full text of rare documents relevant to his main subject.


Brooks, Joanna: (1) ‘John Marrant’s Journal: Providence and Prophecy in Eighteenth Century Atlantic’, in The North Star: A Journal of African American Religious History (ISSN: 1094-902X ) vol.3 no.1 (Fall 1999)

—— —— —— (2) ‘Prince Hall, Freemasonry, and Genealogy’, in African American Review, vol.34, no.2, pp. 197–216 (2000), from JSTOR [www.jstor.org/stable/2901249], accessed 14 Jan 2020.

Gray, David L: Inside Prince Hall (2003) ISBN 0-9576256-1-7, ANZMRC, Williamstown, Vic, Australia; US edn ISBN 0-935633-32-4, Anchor Communications LLC, Lancaster, VA.

Grimshaw, William H: Official History of Freemasonry among the colored people in North America (1903), Broadway Publishing Co, New York, NY. (Digitized by the Internet Archive in 2016 with funding from Duke University Libraries, PDF downloaded from [2].)

Hairston, John L: Landmarks of our Fathers (2016), ISBN 978-0-692-68396-5, Quill & Sword Publishing, Seattle, WA.

Hinks, Peter P: ‘John Marrant and the meaning of Early Black Freemasonry’ in The William and Mary Quarterly vol.64 no.1 pp.105–116, (Jan 2007), available in PDF format from JSTOR [www.jstor.org/stable/4491600], accessed 14 Jan 2021.

Roundtree, Alton G & Paul M Bessell: Out of the Shadows (2006), ISBN 0-9772385-0-4, KLR Publishing, Camp Springs, MD.

Roundtree, Alton G: (2) Fact checking William H Grimshaw’s Official History of Freemasonry among the colored people in North America (2019), ISBN 978-0-578-58516-1, KLR Publishing, Camp Springs, MD.

Upton, William H: (1) Light on a dark subject (1899), The Pacific Mason, Seattle, WA. (Digitised PDF by Ralph W Omholt, Librarian for [www.PhoenixMasonry.org].)

—— —— —— (2) ‘Prince Hall’s Letter Book’ in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum vol.13 p.54 (1900) London, UK.

Voorhis, Harold V.B: Negro Masonry in the United States (1940), Harry Emerson, New York, 1945 edn, PDF download from [3].

Walkes, Joseph A Jr: (1) Black Square & Compass (1979), ISBN 0-88053-081-8, Macoy, Richmond, VA.

—— —— —— (2) A Prince Hall Masonic Quiz Book (1989), revised & enlarged edn, ISBN 0-88053-085-5, Macoy, Richmond, VA.

—— —— —— (3) Prince Hall’s Mission (1995), Midtown Printing & Publishing Co, Kansas City MO.

Wesley, Charles H: Prince Hall Life & Legacy (1977), 2 edn 1983, United Supreme Council SJ, PHA, Washington, DC.

Williams, John B: The Prince Hall Story Revisited (2020), The Iris Group, Rialto CA. ISBN 978-0-9718929-2-7.

work in progress . . .


  1. Jeremy Belknap Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
  2. William H. Upton, "Prince Hall’s 'Letter Book,'" in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, vol.13, (London,1900) pp. 54–65
  3. William H. Upton, Light on a dark subject (Seattle, WA: The Pacific Mason, 1899) p. 8. (Digitized PDF by Ralph W Omholt, Librarian for www.PhoenixMasonry.org.)
  4. G. Draffen, "Prince Hall Freemasonry" in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, vol. 89 (London,1976) pp. 70–91.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Joseph A Walkes, Jr., Prince Hall’s Mission, (Kansas City, MO: Midtown Printing & Publishing Co, 1995) p.17.
  6. M.S. Kaulback & R.W. Van Doren, "A Scottish Lodge in the Grand Jurisdiction of Massachusetts," in Plumbline, Summer 2012, v.19, #2, pp. 4-5.
  7. John L. Hairston, Landmarks of our Fathers ("Hairston") (Seattle, WA: Quill & Sword Publishing, 2016)
  8. correspondence between Joseph Dunckerley and George Washington, quoted in full by Hairston, pp. 83-4.
  9. Fold3 image, cited by Hairston, p.108.
  10. Hairston, p. 94.
  11. Revolutionary War Collections, Massachusetts State Archives, Book 129, pp.198-9, cited by Hairston, p. 98.
  12. War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records, Compiled Military Service Record of Prince Hall, 6 Massachusetts Regiment, displayed by Hairston, p.185.
  13. Upton, "Prince Hall’s Letter Book," p. 56.
  14. original document HC 28/A/2, archives of the United Grand lodge of England (UGLE), viewed 2001.
  15. images: Hairston, pp.103 & 29; J.M. Sherman, in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum vol. 90 (London, UK,1900) p. 319; comments: Draffen in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum vol. 89 (London, UK, 1976) p.72; and Walkes, Prince Hall’s Mission, p.17.
  16. Hairston, pp. 66, 69 & 127; Sherman (AQC) p. 318.
  17. original document HC 28/A/1, UGLE archives, viewed 2001.
  18. original document HC 28/A/1, UGLE archives, viewed 2001.
  19. Hairston, p.131.
  20. Upton, ‘Prince Hall’s Letter Book’, p.56.
  21. original document HC 28/A/2, UGLE archives, viewed 2001.
  22. Upton, "Prince Hall's Letter Book," correspondence Spooner—Hall, letters (3) & (4), and Moody—Hall, letters (6), (7), (9), (10) & (11), pp. 57-59; and Hall to the Duke of Cumberland, original document HC 28/A/3, UGLE archives, viewed 2001.
  23. Upton, "Prince Hall's Letter Book," p. 59: letters (13) Hall to Grand Secretary, (14) Hall to Deputy Grand Master, & (15) Hall to Moody.
  24. original document HC 28/A/1, UGLE archives, viewed 2001.
  25. email correspondence 30 Mar 2016, Susan Snell, Archivist & Records manager, Library and Museum of Freemasonry, London, England, to author John Hairston, in Hairston, pp.116–118.
  26. Entries (34) & (35) pp. 61-63.
  27. Upton, pp. 63-65.
  28. Upton, Entry (28) pp. 60-61.
  29. "The Underground Railroad and Anti-Slavery Movement in Schenectady: a guide for further research," Grems-Doolittle Library, Schenectady County Historical Library.
  30. original document HC 28/A/1, UGLE archives, viewed 2001.
  31. Jeffrey Croteau, '"Black Abolitionists in White Lodges: Richard P.G. Wright and Theodore Sedgwick Wright," presented at the 3rd International Conference on the History of Freemasonry, at the George Washington Masonic Memorial, Alexandria VA, 27-29 May 2011.
  32. Harold V.B. Voorhis, Negro Masonry in the United States (1940), (New York, NY: Harry Emerson, 1945) pp.114-15, PDF download from [1].
  33. original document HC 28/A/1, UGLE archives, viewed 2001.
  34. Hairston, pp. 66, 69 & 127; Sherman, (AQC) p. 318.
  35. Upton, entry (30) p.61.
  36. Upton, entry (31) p.61.
  37. Grimshaw, p.69.
  38. Sherman, philalethes June 1962.
  39. Grimshaw, pp.85-6.
  40. Grimshaw, p.86.
  41. Grimshaw, p.88.
  42. Upton (1) Appendix 10, p.115.
  43. Draffen, G: ‘Prince Hall Freemasonry’ (1976) in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum, London, vol 89 pp.70-91.
  44. Grimshaw, pp.84-5.
  45. Roundtree (2) p.22.
  46. Grimshaw, p.viii.
  47. Williams, p.3.

Research Notes

1. Correspondence between Thomas K Lindsey and Connie Graham

January 12, 2020

I am working on a website about the Daniel Shays Rebellion of 1786-1787. Mr. Prince Hall offered to recruit a company of black americans to join the militia going to defeat the insurgents of the Shays rebellion force, but his offer was not accepted by either the governor, James Bowdoin, or the military commander, General Benjamin Lincoln, or both of them.

A book available through the Internet Archive, https://archive.org , Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War, volume 7, page 105 has three entries for men named Prince Hall. Two are shown as living in Medford, Massachusetts. One of the Medford Records says Mr. Prince Hall died Dec. 12, 1778. A Wikipedia entry about Prince Hall says that 6 men named Prince Hall from Massachusetts served in the Revolutionary War. This directory only has 3 entries. I do not have any other information about Mr. Hall. Perhaps some other records of Revolutionary War service may help.

Respectfully yours,
Mr Thomas K. Lindsey, Fort Worth, Texas:

January 13, 2020
From Mr Thomas K. Lindsey, Fort Worth, Texas:

I sent the same information to the Medford Massachusetts Historical Society through the contact section of their web page. The society has a page about Mr. Hall as a resident of Medford. I found another web page about him which says he fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
FAQ - Medford Masonic Lodge #103 org/faq#TOC-What-is-Prince-Hall-Masonry- This particular page states that ". On March 6, 1775, during the American War of Independence, Prince Hall along with fourteen men of color were made Masons in Army Lodge #441 of the Irish Constitution. When Army Lodge moved on, the aforesaid brethren were issued a permit authorizing them to appear publicly as a Masonic body for the purpose of celebrating the feast of St. John and to bury their dead."
medfordhistorical.org/medford-history/africa-to-medford/prince-hall / princehall_princehall/

Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors was begun in the late 1800s from records on cards in state archives. I know that some information is missing about some individuals, such as Captain Daniel Shays. He was a member of a militia company that marched to Lexington/Concord/Cambridge in April, 1775, was at the battle of Saratoga, New York, but the state record for him does not have this information.
I would not be surprised to learn that some member of the Daughters of the American Revolution has established her eligibility for membership through Mr. Prince Hall, and managed to untangle the service records of the three Prince Hall men in the state list.
I searched for Prince Hall in a NewsBank genealogical database that used old newspapers. His death in December, 1807 was reported by many in the state. The earliest newspaper date is December 5, 1807 with information that the funeral would be on Monday.
I hope that some of this helps. Using Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors to look for the names of soldiers in [ ] Suffolk County Regiment may identify Regimental Colonels, Lt. Colonels, Majors, and company Captains, that may have some association with him before, during, or after the war, but this would be a LONG project.

Sincerely yours,
Thomas Lindsey

On Sunday, 08:48:44 PM CST, Connie Graham wrote:

Mr. Lindsey;
Thank you so much for this. I have added it as a note to the profile of Prince Hall, for future reference.

2. Topic of Prince Hall and Education:

(a) Extract from the pre-merge profile of Hall-52906.
For years, he protested the lack of schools for black children and in 1798 he established a private school for free black children, the "African Free School", in his son's home.

(b) see Wesley, Prince Hall Life and Legacy, 2edn pp76/7.
(i) 17 Oct 1787 petition to both Houses, education for black children, on basis that blacks pay taxes.[Aptheker]
(ii) 25 June 1792 PH Charge exhorts blacks to forego ‘recreations and superfluities’, to raise money to educate their children.
(iii) Prince Saunders, after attending Dartmouth College, started school in house of Primus Hall from 1798 to 1803. [but Prince Saunders attended college 1807-08, then taught at Boston’s African School Nov 1808 for 4 yrs, initiated in African Lodge 1809, became Secretary 1811 (Walkes BS&C p26 & other modern sources)]
(iv) 1796 Prince Hall appealed to Selectmen for a school for black children; request approved, but no building found.
(v) 1800 Prince Hall repeated the request, same result, then started a school in his own residence. Re-opened [?] in residence of Primus Hall. Two student teachers from Harvard University engaged until 1806. With increased enrolment, school moved to the African Society House. [unsourced]

Needs further research and primary sources.

  • Login to edit this profile and add images.
  • Private Messages: Send a private message to the Profile Manager. (Best when privacy is an issue.)
  • Public Comments: Login to post. (Best for messages specifically directed to those editing this profile. Limit 20 per day.)


Leave a message for others who see this profile.
There are no comments yet.
Login to post a comment.