Wednesday, June 29, 2022

‘The ALR: a new understanding of familiar history’

Bill, Conor, and Oscar.

The American Lodge of Research met Tuesday night to hear a brilliant presentation and to tend to necessary business.

It was RW Bro. Oscar Alleyne, President of the Masonic Society, who did us the service of introducing to the lodge one John Batt, a soldier who served on both sides in the American War of Independence and who Oscar reveals to have played a remarkable part in the birth of what today is called Prince Hall Masonry.

Batt was a British soldier in North America in the 1770s, being deployed in Boston, Halifax, and Staten Island, as the fortunes of his regiment fluctuated. Oscar delved into British and American military records to illustrate Batt’s hopscotching from one side to the other and back again (I suspect he returned to the British lines upon realizing he wasn’t gonna get paid squat in the Continental Army), and plumbed the archives of Prince Hall Masonry to reveal how—are you sitting down?—it was Batt who initiated the free men of color in Boston who later would organize African Lodge.

As you know, the commonly understood history of the initiations of Bro. Prince Hall and his fourteen companions involves Lodge 441, a traveling military lodge of 38th British Foot Infantry. But wait, there’s more! Oscar shows it was Batt himself who, in accordance with the contemporary custom of degrees for fees, made those men Masons.

I don’t think it’s necessary to be too much of a Masonic history nerd to get excited over such a discovery. This is precisely the sort of thing that compels us to support Masonic research. The brethren’s applause and thanks followed the Q&A.

Next, it was time to elect new members of The ALR, and five Corresponding Members and two Active Members (including Leif from QC2076) were voted in with appreciation.

Being June, it came time to reorganize the officer line. There were a few excused absences, so we’ll install our secretary and senior warden later, but Conor is continuing for another year in the East. (I don’t want to embarrass him, but the truth is he’s a godsend during this encouraging time of rebuilding the lodge.) Dave remains at the treasurer’s desk. Michael is our new junior deacon; Yves moves on to senior deacon. I am now observing the sun at meridian, just in time for tanning season.

MW Bill Sardone honored us as our installing master, with the assistance of RW Oscar as installing marshal.

The new apron for the senior deacon of the lodge.

Conor procured aprons for us officers. Great stuff from Macoy, and based on the design of ALR regalia from generations ago too.

We will meet again in October.

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