Thomas Smith Webb

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Thomas Smith Webb

Thomas Smith Webb (October 30, 1771 July 6, 1819) was the author of Freemason’s Monitor or Illustrations of Masonry, a book which had a significant impact on the development of Masonic Ritual in America, and especially that of the York Rite. [1] Webb has been called the "Founding Father of the York or American Rite" for his efforts to promote those Masonic bodies. [2]

Freemasonry group of fraternal organizations

Freemasonry or Masonry consists of fraternal organisations that trace their origins to the local fraternities of stonemasons, which from the end of the fourteenth century regulated the qualifications of stonemasons and their interaction with authorities and clients. The degrees of Freemasonry retain the three grades of medieval craft guilds, those of Apprentice, Journeyman or fellow, and Master Mason. The candidate of these three degrees is progressively taught the meanings of the symbols of Freemasonry, and entrusted with grips, signs and words to signify to other members that he has been so initiated. The initiations are part allegorical morality play and part lecture. The three degrees are offered by Craft Freemasonry. Members of these organisations are known as Freemasons or Masons. There are additional degrees, which vary with locality and jurisdiction, and are usually administered by their own bodies. Historian Jasper Ridley argues that it is, "the World's Most Powerful Secret Society."

The York Rite is one of several Rites of Freemasonry. A Rite is a series of progressive degrees that are conferred by various Masonic organizations or bodies, each of which operates under the control of its own central authority. The York Rite specifically is a collection of separate Masonic Bodies and associated Degrees that would otherwise operate independently. The three primary bodies in the York Rite are the Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, Council of Royal & Select Masters or Council of Cryptic Masons, and the Commandery of Knights Templar, each of which are governed independently but are all considered to be a part of the York Rite. There are also other organizations that are considered to be directly associated with the York Rite, or require York Rite membership to join such as the York Rite Sovereign College but in general the York Rite is considered to be made up of the aforementioned three. The Rite's name is derived from the city of York, where, according to a Masonic legend, the first meetings of Masons in England took place, although only the lectures of the York Rite Sovereign College make reference to that legend.

Contents

Biography

Webb was born in Boston, Massachusetts. At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to a printer in Boston, and he afterward moved to Keene, New Hampshire, where he worked for some time at his trade. Here the three degrees of ancient craft Masonry were conferred upon him by Rising Sun Lodge. In 1793 he moved to Albany, New York and established a paper staining factory. On 14 September 1797, as appears from the copyright, he published The Freemason's Monitor, or Illustrations of Masonry. This small volume, which is now very rare, consisted of two parts, the second part containing an account of the "Ineffable Degrees of Masonry" together with several Masonic songs by the author. The publication of this work was followed by successively enlarged and improved editions in 1802, 1805, 1808, 1816, 1818, and by numerous editions after the author's death. [3]

Boston Capital city of Massachusetts, United States

Boston is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. The city proper covers 48 square miles (124 km2) with an estimated population of 685,094 in 2017, making it also the most populous city in New England. Boston is the seat of Suffolk County as well, although the county government was disbanded on July 1, 1999. The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Boston, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) home to a census-estimated 4.8 million people in 2016 and ranking as the tenth-largest such area in the country. As a combined statistical area (CSA), this wider commuting region is home to some 8.2 million people, making it the sixth-largest in the United States.

Massachusetts State of the United States of America

Massachusetts, officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It borders on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island to the south, New Hampshire and Vermont to the north, and New York to the west. The state is named after the Massachusett tribe, which once inhabited the east side of the area, and is one of the original thirteen states. The capital of Massachusetts is Boston, which is also the most populous city in New England. Over 80% of Massachusetts's population lives in the Greater Boston metropolitan area, a region influential upon American history, academia, and industry. Originally dependent on agriculture, fishing and trade, Massachusetts was transformed into a manufacturing center during the Industrial Revolution. During the 20th century, Massachusetts's economy shifted from manufacturing to services. Modern Massachusetts is a global leader in biotechnology, engineering, higher education, finance, and maritime trade.

Keene, New Hampshire City in New Hampshire, United States

Keene is a city in and the seat of Cheshire County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 23,409 at the 2010 census.

Thomas Smith Webb presided over a convention of committees in Boston in October, 1797, for the formation of a general Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, and at a meeting in Providence in January, 1799, he presented, as chairman of a committee, a constitution which was adopted. The formation of the Grand Encampment of the United States was the result of his Masonic work. The original draft of the constitution, with all the changes, additions, and interlineations in his own handwriting, is in the archives of St. John's Commandery, Providence, Rhode Island. In 1799 he moved with his family to Providence, where he spent the greater part of his remaining years. [3]

Providence, Rhode Island Capital of Rhode Island

Providence is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Rhode Island and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, a Reformed Baptist theologian and religious exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He named the area in honor of "God's merciful Providence" which he believed was responsible for revealing such a haven for him and his followers. The city is situated at the mouth of the Providence River at the head of Narragansett Bay.

His musical attainments were considerable, and he was the first president of the Psallonian Society, an organization for the improvement of its members in sacred melody. In 1815, having changed his residence to Boston, he instituted, in connection with others, the Handel and Haydn Society, of which he was the first president. [3]

Handel and Haydn Society non-profit organisation in the USA

The Handel and Haydn Society, familiarly known as H+H, is an American chorus and period instrument orchestra based in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded in 1815, it is the third oldest musical organization in the United States after the Stoughton Musical Society and the U.S. Marine Band, and the oldest continually performing arts organization in the United States.

He also served as the first Grand Commander of what is now the Grand Commandery of Knights Templar and the Appendant Orders of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island in 1813-14. [4]

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References

  1. Tabbert, Mark A., American Freemasons, New York University Press, 2005, pp.51-53
  2. Biography of Thomas Smith Webb, on the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon website.
  3. 1 2 3 Wikisource-logo.svg  Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J., eds. (1889). "Webb, Thomas Smith"  . Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography . New York: D. Appleton.
  4. "Thomas Smith Webb" Short Talk Bulletin. Masonic Service Association of North America.

Sources

Further reading

Paul Dean (minister) American minister

Paul Dean (1789–1860) was an American 19th-century universalist minister. He was pastor in Boston, Massachusetts, of the First Universalist Church on Hanover Street (ca.1813) and the Central Universalist Church on Bulfinch Street (1823–1840).