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Born about 1697 in London and came to New England about 1723, returning later to England. It is recorded in the Minutes of the Grand Lodge of England that in 1730 he was a member of Lodge No. 75, meeting at the Rainbow Coffee House in York Buildings, London. He is mentioned as being in a law-suit at Boston in 1733 and was in business there as a tailor. During 1733 Governor Jonathan w Belcher appointed him Cornet in his Troop of Guards with the rank of Major. The office was that of Standard Bearer. The executors of Price allude to him in 1792 as Major Price. He carried on business for some time at the Sign of the Brazen Head on Cornhill, near the present No. 36 Washington Street, about half way between Water Street and State Street in Boston. He adhered to the Church of England and attended Trinity Church.
He died on May 20, 1780. Brother W. S. Gardner (on page 307, Proceedings, Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, 1871) points out here the necessity for bearing in mind that until January 1, 1752, the year commenced on March 25. By act of Parliament of 1751, the succeeding years commenced on January 1. In these Proceedings of 1871 (pages 284-304), there are some particulars of decided interest regarding this prominent Freemason and his pioneer work. A portrait to which allusion is made is described as follows: It represents him in the full vigor of manhood, dressed in the Id peculiar style of gentlemen of about the year 1740. w He wore a wig and queue, white neck-cloth and single breasted coat flowing away. His face betokened mildness and gentleness. The eyes are large and full, set wide apart, soft and expressive. The forehead was lighted up with animation and conveyed the idea of a gentleman.
April 30, 1733, the Right Honorable and Right Worshipful Anthony Lord Viscount Montague, Grand Master of England, issued a Deputation appointing Henry Price as Provincial Grand Master of New England. Price was authorized to appoint his Deputy Grand Master and Grand Wardens, and "to constitute the Brethren 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."
On Monday of July 30, 1733, Henry Price convened at Boston the following Brethren: Andrew Belcher, Thomas Kennelly, John Quane, Henry Hope, Frederick Harnilton, John McNeall, Peter Hall, Matthew Young, John Waddell and Edward Ellis at the house of Edward Lutwyteh "at ye Sign of the Bunch of Grapes in King Street.
" This celebrated inn was situated on what is now the corner of State and Kilby streets, and on the westerly side of the last named street. Brother Price produced his Deputation appointing him Provincial Grand Master of New England. By virtue of this Deputation he formed and opened a Provincial Grand Lodge, appointed Right Worshipful Brother Andrew Belcher as Deputy Grand Master and Worshipful Brothers Thomas Kennelly and John Quane as Grand Wardens pro tempore. Several Brothers were then made Freemasons. Then, "granting the prayer thereof, he then and there in the most solemn manner according to ancient Rt. and Custom and the form prescribed in our printed Book of Constitutions, constitute" the Brethren into a regular Lodge, in manner and form.
Henry Hope was chosen Master and he nominated Frederick Hamilton and James Gorder as Wardens. These being presented to Grand Master Price, he "caused them to be duly examined, and being found duly qualified, approved and confirmed them in their respective stations by investing them with the implements of their office, giving each his proper charge, and admonishing the Brethren of the Lodge to do obedience and submission, according to our printed Book of Constitutions, Charges and Regulations, and so forth. Thus was Masonry founded in New England."
In 1734 Brother Price's Commission was extended over all North America. On November 28, 1734, Benjamin Franklin, who was a close friend of Price and who at that time was Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, wrote Price the following letter in behalf of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, evidently with the purpose of arranging a mutually agreeable status under the new conditions:
Right Worshipful Grand Master and Most Worthy and Dear Brethren:-- We acknowledge your favor of the 23rd of October past, and rejoiee that the Grand Master whom God bless, hath 80 happily recovered from his late indisposition: and we now, glass in hand, drink to the establishment of his health, and the prosperity of your whole Lodge.
We have seen in the Boston prints an article of news from London, importing that at a Grand Lodge held there in August last, Mr. Price's deputation and power extended over all America, which advice we hope is true, and we heartily congratulate him thereupon and though this has not been as yet regularly signified to us by you, vet, giving credit thereto, we think it our duty to lay before your Lodge what we apprehend needful to be done for us, in order to promote and strengthen the interest of Masonry in this Province, which seems to want the sanction of some authority derived from home, to give the proceedings and determinations of our Lodge their due weight, to wit, a Deputation or charter granted by the Right Worshipful Mr. Price, by virtue of his Commission from Britain, confirming the Brethren of Pennsylvania in the privileges they at present enjoy of holding annually their Grand Lodge, choosing their Grand Master, Wardens and other officers, who may manage all affairs relating to the Brethren here with full Dower and authority, according to the - customs and usages of Masons, the said Grand Master of Pennsylvania only yielding his chair, when the Grand Master of all America shall be in place. This, if it seems good and reasonable to you to grant, will not only be extremely agreeable to us, but mill also, we are confident conduce much to the welfare, establishment and reputation of Masonry in these parts. We therefore submit it for your consideration, and, as we hope our request will be complied with, we desire that it may be done as soon as possible and also accompanied with a copy of the R. W. Grand Master s first Deputation, and of the instrument by which it appears to be enlarged as above-mentioned, witnessed by your it ardent and signed by the Secretary; for which favors this Lodge doubt not of being able to behave as not to be thought ungrateful.
We are Right Worshipful Grand Master and Most Worthy Brethren, Your Affectionate Brethren and obliged humble Servants, Signed at the request of the Lodge, B. Franklin, G. M. Philadelphia, Nov. 25, 1734.
On the same day that Franklin Sent the above letter as an official communication from the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania, he also wrote a personal letter to Price which is quoted below:
Dear Brother Price:--I am glad to hear of your recovery. I hoped to have seen you here this Fall, agreeable to the expectation you were so good as to give me, but since sickness has prevented your coming while the weather was moderate, I have no room to flatter myself with a visit from you before the Spring, when a deputation of the Brethren here will have an opportunity of showing how much they esteem vou.
I beg leave to recommend their request to you, and to inform you, that some false and rebel Brethren, who are foreigners, being about to set up a distinct Lodge in opposition to the old and true Brethren here, pretending to make Masons for a bowl of punch, and the Craft is like to come into disesteem among us unless the true Brethren are countenanced and distinguished by some special authority as herein desired. I entreat therefore , that whatever you shall think proper to do therein may be sent by the next post , if possible , or the next following.
I am, Your Affectionate Brother & humb Servt B. Franklin, G M., Philadelphia, Nov. 28 1734. Pennsylvania. P. S.--If more of the Constitutions are wanted among you, please hint it to me. To Mr. Henry Price, At the Brazen Bead Boston,
The originals of the two letters quoted above were destroyed at the burnings of the Masonic Temple in Boston, April S6, 1864, prior to which time the official letter hung in a frame in the Temple.
For much information concerning Brother Price, see The Beginnings of Freemasonry in America, first delivered as an address to the Grand Lodge on September 13, 1916, and published in the Proceedings of that year, afterwards reprinted in book form, by Past Grand Master Melvin M. Johnson of Massachusetts; also Doctor Mackey's History of Free masonry, pages 1565-6, 1604-5.
A Henry Price Medal is awarded as occasion war rants by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts to Brethren who have rendered distinguished service to the Order, a practice begun by Brother Melvin M Johnson during his term of office as Grand Master; 1914-6.
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