Prince Hall Freemasonry


Prince Hall Freemasonry is a parallel line of Freemasonry, originally started as a Masonic lodge for freed African slaves in the colonies during the Revolutionary war.

Today, the Prince Hall fraternity has over 4,500 lodges worldwide, forming 44 independent jurisdictions with a membership of over 300,000 masons whereby any good-hearted man who is worthy and well qualified, can seek more light in masonry.

Prince Hall Freemasonry does not have a single organizing body. The Conference of Grand Masters Prince Hall Masons, Inc. may be a step in finding a Prince Hall lodge local to your residency as it consists of Grand Masters of the Jurisdictions that make up the Prince Hall Masonic Family, principally in the United States and its territories.

Additionally, the The Phylaxis Society may serve as an additional organizational resource to explore Prince Hall Freemasonry.


b. September 12th, 1748 – d. December 4th, 1807


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, but no record of birth by church or by state, has been found there, and none in Boston. All 11 countries were searched and churches with baptismal records were examined without finding the name of Prince Hall.

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. Eight years later he had acquired real estate and was qualified to vote. Prince Hall also pressed John Hancock to be allowed to join the Continental Army and was one of a few blacks who fought at the battle of Bunker Hill. Religiously inclined, he later became a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church with a charge in Cambridge and fought for the abolition of slavery.” Some accounts are paraphrased from the generally discredited Grimshaw book of 1903.

Freemasonry among Black men began during the War of Independence, when Prince Hall and fourteen other free black men were initiated into Lodge # 441, Irish Constitution, attached to the 38th Regiment of Foot, British Army Garrisoned at Castle Williams (now Fort Independence) Boston Harbor on March 6, 1775. The Master of the Lodge was Sergeant John Batt. Along with Prince Hall, the other newly made masons were Cyrus Johnson, Bueston Slinger, Prince Rees, John Canton, Peter Freeman, Benjamin Tiler, Duff Ruform, Thomas Santerson, Prince Rayden, Cato Spain, Boston Smith, Peter Best, Forten Howard and Richard Titley.


When the British Army left Boston, this Lodge, # 441, granted Prince Hall and his brethren authority to meet as a lodge, to go in procession on Saints John Day, and as a Lodge to bury their dead; but they could not confer degrees nor perform any other Masonic “work”. For nine years these brethren, together with others who had received their degrees elsewhere, assembled and enjoyed their limited privileges as Masons. Finally in March 2, 1784, Prince Hall petitioned the Grand Lodge of England, through a Worshipful Master of a subordinate Lodge in London (William Moody of Brotherly Love Lodge # 55) for a warrant or charter.

The warrant was granted on September 29, 1784 under the name of African Lodge, # 459 on the register of the Grand Lodge of England by authority of then Grand Master, the Duke of Cumberland, delivered in Boston on April 29, 1787 by Captain James Scott, brother-in-law of John Hancock and Master of the Neptune. Prince Hall was the first Master of the lodge which was organized one week later, May 6, 1787.

The warrant to African Lodge # 459 of Boston is the most significant and highly prized document known to the Prince Hall Masonic Fraternity. Through it, Masonic legitimacy among free black men is traced, and on it more than any other factor, rests their case. That charter, which is authenticated and in safekeeping, is believed to be the only original charter issued from the Grand Lodge of England still in the possession of any Lodge in the United States. African Lodge allowed itself to slip into arrears in the late 1790’s and was stricken from the rolls after the Union of 1813 although it had attempted correspondence in 1802 and 1806. In 1827, after further unreplied communication, it declared its independence and began to call itself African Grand Lodge # 1. It is interesting to note that when the Massachusetts lodges which were acting as a Provincial Grand Lodge also declared themselves an independent Grand Lodge, and even when the present Grand Lodge of Massachusetts was formed by the amalgamation of the two separate lodges, African Lodge was not invited to take part, even though it held a warrant every bit as valid as the others.

The question of extending Masonry arose when Absalom Jones of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania appeared in 1791 in Boston. He was an ordained Episcopal priest and a mason who was interested in establishing a Masonic lodge in Philadelphia. Delegations also traveled from Providence, Rhode Island and New York to establish the African Grand Lodge that year. Prince Hall was appointed Grand Master, serving in this capacity until his death in 1807.

Upon his death, Nero Prince became Grand Master. When Nero Prince sailed to Russia in 1808, George Middleton succeeded him. After Middleton, Petrert Lew, Samuel H. Moody and then, John T. Hilton became Grand Master. In 1827, it was Hilton who recommended a Declaration of Independence from the English Grand Lodge.

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, but the intense heat charred the paper. It was at this time that Grand Master S.T. Kendall crawled into the burning building and in peril of his life, saved the charter from complete destruction. Thus a Grand Master’s devotion and heroism further consecrated this parchment to us, and added a further detail to its already interesting history. 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.

In 1946, the Grand Lodge of England again extended recognition to the Prince Hall Grand Lodge but withdrew it the same year. In 1994, the Grand Lodge of England finally accepted a petition for recognition by Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. “England cited several reasons recognition was witheld,” Nicholas B. Locker, Grand Master of Prince Hall from 1992-1994, said in an interview in June 1996. “One was ‘territorial boundaries,’ because the Grand Lodge of England had already recognized the white Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, which shared the same jurisdiction with us. “Another factor was that Prince Hall owed back payment of dues to the Grand Lodge. Back 200 years ago, there were no checks, and often dues for England were put in the hands of sailing ship captains. It was several months before the ships arrived in England, and money was lost. So it wasn’t possible to say for sure that Prince Hall paid all his dues.”

The ties were arranged to be formalized in June 1996. In its 212 years, the Prince Hall Grand Lodge has spawned over 44 other Grand Lodges. The subordinate lodges receive recognition once their grand lodges are recognized.

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.


  1. Interested in membership,father was a Mason for years before he died. Feel it’s time to look into it for myself. Reading of history, and of Prince Hall Freemasonary. Will find Lodge # and degree of father,he lived in Levittown,Pa.

  2. Hey Bryan, what is your father full name. We can look in the here in Philadelphia if he was a Prince Hall Freemason.

  3. Wow, I didn’t reread that before posting. What I meant to say was, I can check at our Philadelphia Grand Lodge. Sorry for the confusion if any.

  4. Iam 21 Ive been reading up on masonary since the age of 14. my great uncle was in f masonary and he come from barbados and i believe his lodge was in newyork. I belive iam deicated and willing to fight to continue to hold up the order or the true world. so if anyone knows how i can get affiliated reach me on myspace name jontae. ancient free and accepted.

  5. For the guys interested in Masonic membership, it’s not that hard. Just google the Masonic Grand Lodge of your state and look for a lodge in your area. If you don’t know anyone, the brothers their will be more than happy to work with you.

  6. Ive been looking into this fraternity since my military days. I do have a cousin an uncle who are members. Not sure how to ask them or if I should wait till I return to Jamaica to see if I can me a member.

  7. I’m interested in becoming a member,My grandfather was 33rd1/3 His name is Raleigh Deloatch from Conway North Carolina I don’t know the lodge number but I am hungry for knowledge and I truly want to be illuminated. My grandfather was a great man and I want to follow in his steps.

  8. mind has beened opened, just found out my great uncle was A bufflo soldier fought in WW2 n italy.. He was from boston, which make me believe he was a Prince Hall masonary.. ive found myself, Now I JUST WANNA BE HAPPY!!!

  9. my grandfather was a Prince Hall Mason in Los Angeles around the 1950’s. His name was Austin L. McCoy. Could u please help me find his records and a let me know if i should start looking into this for myself also.

  10. I have family that are freemasons i do not know if it is Prince Hall they are black so I would assume, I live in Michigan City, IN and I would like to learn the more I read the more I am craving to find the better man in myself…

  11. I was recently voted worthy to join a PHA lodge. Due to my lack of light at this time, I will not divulge any info as in what lodge or state i am in. i will keep all of you informed as i travel further ( until i am raised to that 3rd deg.) Really looking foward to this experience.

  12. I have a few questions that I hope someone can answer:

    Can someone please tell me what is the highest degree that a Prince Hall Freemason can attain? I believe it is the 3rd degree but I am not sure.

    Are Prince Hall Freemasons connected to the Scottish Rite or York Rite?

    After attaining the 3rd degree, are Prince Hall Freemasons then able to continue in the Scottish or York Rite?

    Does anyone know of any Prince Hall Freemasons who have attained 32 or 33 degrees?

    Must you become a Prince Hall Freemason in order to become a Noble Shriner?

  13. Seek and Ye shall find, Ask and it shall be given unto you, Knock and the door shall be opened.

  14. I’m a member of lodge 471 blue lodge and I’m very interested in prince hall can you please lead me to the direction I have to go ….thank you

  15. I too am reading information about Prince Hall Masonry now that I have settled in a community long-term.
    My father, John F. Scott, deceased, was a Mason and Shriner in Missouri. I live in Jefferson City, he was in the lodge here, and in Columbia. Shrine in Kansas City. Birth..August 1932.
    Any advice would be appreciated. Mr. Williams, Mr. Logan, and other family friends have passed away and other Masons have moved away, so I cant ask one of his lodge brothers like he had told me before he passed on.

  16. I am interested in joining Prince Hall masonry here in Augusta, GA. My father James O. Taylor Sr. of Augusta, GA was a Prince Hall. I am an inactive F&AM brother from Thomson, GA .

  17. hello i’m brother Edwards from holy city lodge #150 in chicago illinois and i just wish that us as brothers will get our information right when it comes to the list of famous men of our craft it seems like everyone is just copying off the next person when it comes to this and no one is doing the reserch to find to truth about our brothers and i feel this will hurt the craft as a whole !

  18. Hi name rique from Orlando Florida I think it’s really Amazing how Prince Hall is continuing to help Good Men to Great Men no matter what happened to you as Men What Doesn’t Kill you Make you only Stronger. I have a a lot Respect for All Freemasons Shriners Order of Eastern Star this is my Family I say because I have been Blessed to Prince Hall on My Father side Family and My Mother Family side

  19. 1. Mr. Worrell, 33rd degree is the highest degree you can obtain through the Scottish Rite body (have to be selected), otherwise, 32nd degree is the highest, 13th degree is the highest degree you can obtain on through the York Rite body.
    2. Yes, Prince Hall Freemasonry has both, York and Scottish Rite
    3. I have known multiple brothers that obtained the 33rd degree, being that I spent most of my time as a Freemason (PHA) in military lodges, it’s not as easy to keep up with brothers as opposed to regular lodges where people have spent most of their lives
    4. Yes, you must first be a Master Mason before you can be initiated into Shrine, usually, at least when I was initiated into Shrine, I had to first complete York or Scottish Rite.

    I know that some jurisdictions have omitted having to go through York or Scottish Rite in order to become a Shriner, which I disagree with completely. I feel that before becoming a Shriner, one should receive more teachings in the Masonic Order

  20. Always been interested in being a Mason for as long as I can remember. Reading and understand the history this is what I have always wanted. Growing up in a single family home in Chicago and looking around me seeing some of the things and programs. I grew up with two men that were and is great men that I look up to. I’m just saying.

  21. I have been researching freemasonry and I am interested in joining. But I am not sure where the closest lodge is to me. I live in Chattanooga, TN.

  22. I am very interested in the Prince Hall Freemasonry, I’ve been doing research for quite sometime giving the fact that my grandfather Levingston Colllins was a 33rd deg. Freemason in Queens, New York & I want to continue the tradition as it is apparent my purpose has been granted since birth. I am free born and looking for assistance in fulfilling my goal of being a good man turned better with the help of my future brothers. I am more than willing and ready, I live in Florence, South Carolina if anybody can help me out please email me @

  23. Good morning! My husband and I are interested in joining the freemasons in Colorado. Please let me know how we can obtain information and applications on membership of this elite group. My email address is Thank you for your help

  24. Hello, I am looking for a Masonic hall in the Clearwater area. I prefer a Prince Hall lodge if possible. My name is Andrew. Can someone please steer me in the right direction?

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