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This is a chronology of the formation of "regular" or "mainstream" Masonic Grand Lodges in North America, descending from the Premier Grand Lodge of England or its rival, the Antient Grand Lodge of England. A Grand Lodge (or "Grand Orient" as it is called in some jurisdictions elsewhere in the world) is the governing body that supervises "Craft" Freemasonry (also known as "Blue Lodge" Freemasonry) in a particular jurisdiction or geographical area.


Freemasonry Prior to 1717

Freemasonry (or Speculative Masonry) developed out of the guilds and associations of operative stonemasons, during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. By 1700, numerous Masonic lodges were in existence throughout England, Scotland and Ireland. Each lodge was considered independent unto itself, and there was no supervisory body that governed all of Freemasonry. This led to some confusion, as ritual variations developed and disputes as to the legitimacy of various lodges arose. In 1717 members of four lodges in London elected to form what they called a "Grand Lodge" to supervise the fraternity and grant charters to new lodges. Not all lodges, however, accepted the self-proclaimed authority of this Grand Lodge, and soon formed rival Grand Lodges of their own.

"Original" Grand Lodges formed by "Time Immemorial" LodgesThe following Grand Lodges were formed by pre-existing "Time Immemorial" lodges (lodges that predated the concept of having Grand Lodges to supervise and coordinate the craft, and thus were retained as having existed from "time immemorial").

Grand Lodges founded during the Colonial Era

Freemasonry spread from the British Isles during the Colonial Era. All of the "original" Grand Lodges began to issue charters to individual lodges in North America, but the two English Grand Lodges (the "Ancients" and the "Moderns") were the most prolific. Starting in 1730 The Grand Lodge of England (Moderns) began to issue Warrants for Provincial Grand Lodges in the colonies. Initially, these Warrants were issued to individuals, to act as deputies for the Grand Master in a given area for fixed periods of time, and some confusion resulted due to overlapping jurisdictions. To confuse matters further, with the formation of the Antient Grand Lodge, rival Provincial Grand Lodges were chartered under their jurisdiction.

  •  "Coxe" Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, & New York (Moderns) - Est. 1730 - by warrant issued to Daniel Coxe by GLE for two years, allowing for a successor to be elected. Granted jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. Successors claimed jurisdiction only over Pennsylvania. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania dates itself from the formation of this Provincial Grand Lodge.

  •  Provincial Grand Lodge of New England (Moderns) - Est. 1733 by warrant given to Henry Price. The Grand Lodge of Massachusetts dates itself from the formation of this Provincial Grand Lodge.

  •  Provincial Grand Lodge of South Carolina - Est. 1736

  •  Provincial Grand Lodge of New York (Moderns) - 1738-1780s - Warrants issued by GLE (Moderns) to Francis Goelet (1738–1753), to George Harrison (1753–1771), to Sir John Johnson (from 1771). As Johnson was a Loyalist during the American Revolution, he is believed to have taken his warrant with him when he fled to Canada, thus leaving the Moderns Lodges without a Provincial Grand Master.

  •  Provincial Grand Lodge for North America (Scotland) - Est. 1757 - By warrant issued to Colonel John Young. Provincial Grand Lodge of Canada - Est. 1759 (Became PGL of Lower Canada, i.e. Quebec, in 1792)

  •  Provincial Grand Lodge for Pennsylvania (Ancients) - Est. 1761 - By Warrant issued to William Ball.

  •  Provincial Grand Lodge of New York ("Athol Charter" - Ancients) - 1781-1784 - Although this PGL was Warranted by the "Ancients", the final Provincial Grand Master, Chancellor Robert R. Livingston (PGM: 1784-87), was actually the Master of a Lodge under the Jurisdiction of the Moderns, thus uniting the two branches of English Freemasonry in New York State. Livingston continued in office as the first Grand Master of the independent GL of NY.

  •  Provincial Grand Lodge of Upper Canada - Est. 1792

Independent Grand Lodges

After the American Revolution and, again, after the incorporation of Canada, the various Provincial Grand Lodges in North America were closed, and the Lodges in each State or Province formed independent Grand Lodges. These in turn, chartered lodges in the territories in the West and North. As each new State or Province came into being, the lodges that had been chartered within its borders gathered together and formed new Grand Lodges.

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