This article is about the biography of Prince Hall. For African Masonic Lodge he established, see Prince Hall Freemasonry.

Portrait of Prince Hall

Prince Hall (1735 – 1807)[1] was an African American noted as a tireless abolitionist, for his leadership in the free black community in Boston, and as the founder of Prince Hall Masonry.

Hall tried to gain New England’s enslaved and free blacks a place in Freemasonry, education and the military, which were some of the most crucial spheres of society in his time. Hall is considered the founder of “Black Freemasonry” in the United States, known today as Prince Hall Freemasonry. Hall formed the African Grand Lodge of North America. Prince Hall was unanimously elected its Grand Master and served until his death in 1807.

He lobbied for education rights for black children and was active in the back-to-Africa movement. Manyhistorians regard Prince Hall as one of the prominent African-Americans during the early years of the United States


Early life

Hall was born in 1735.[1] Hall may have been born in Barbados, somewhere else in the Caribbean, or in Africa. Author and historian James Sidbury said: “It is more likely that he was a native of New England.”[2]

Historian Charles H. Wesley developed what is now the widely accepted theory about Prince Hall’s early years. Based upon his research, by age 11 Prince Hall was a slave to Boston tanner William Hall. By 1770, Prince Hall was a free, literate black man living in Boston.[3] The manumission certificate for Prince Hall, dated one month after the Boston Massacre [April, 1770], stated that “no longer Reckoned a slave, but [had] always accounted as a free man.”[1] It is unclear how he learned to read and write; he may have been self-taught or, like other slaves and free blacks in New England, he may have had assistance.

Family, church and work life

Hall and a woman named Delia, a servant outside William Hall’s household, had a son named Primus in 1756.[1]

Hall joined the Congregational Church in 1762; He was 27 years of age. He then married an enslaved woman named Sarah Ritchie who died. He married Flora Gibbs of Gloucester eight years after Sarah’s death.[1]

In Boston, Hall worked as a peddler, caterer and leatherworker, owning his own leather shop.[1][2] In April, 1777 he created five leather drumheads for an artillery regiment of Boston.[1] Hall was a homeowner who voted and paid taxes.[1]

His son, Primus, was a fellow abolitionist, spent years supporting education of African American children, was a freemason in his father’s lodge and had served in the Revolutionary War.[4]

Revolutionary War[edit]

Hall encouraged enslaved and freed blacks to serve the American colonial military. He believed that if blacks were involved in the founding of the new nation, it would aid in the attainment of freedom for all blacks.[5][6] Hall proposed that the Massachusetts Committee of Safety allow blacks to join the military. He and fellow supporters petition compared Britain’s colonial rule with the enslavement of blacks. Their proposal was declined.[6][7]

England issued a proclamation that guaranteed freedom to blacks who enlisted in the British army. Once the British Army filled its ranks with black troops, the Continental Army reversed its decision and allowed blacks into the military.[citation needed][8] It is believed, but not certain, that Hall was one of the six “Prince Halls” from Massachusetts to serve during the war.[1] His son, Primus, was a Revolutionary War soldier, having enlisted at the age 19.[4]

Having served during the Revolutionary War, many African Americans expected, but did not receive, racial equality when the war ended. With the intention of improving the lives of fellow African Americans, Prince Hall collaborated with others to propose legislation for equal rights. He also hosted community events, such as educational forums and theatre events to improve the lives of black people.[6]

Many of the original members of the African Masonic Lodge had served during the Revolutionary War.[9]


Prince Hall was interested in the Masonic fraternity because freemasonry was founded upon ideals of liberty, equality and peace. Prior to the American Revolutionary War, Prince Hall and fourteen other free black men petitioned for admittance to the white Boston St. John’s Lodge.[10][11] They were turned down.[2] Having been rejected by colonial Freemasonries, Hall and 15 others sought and were initiated into the Masonry by members of Lodge No. 441 of the Grand Lodge of Ireland on March 6, 1775.[1][2][12] The Lodge was attached to the British forces stationed in Boston. Hall and other freedmen founded African Lodge No. 1 and he was named Grand Master.[1]}


The black Masons had limited power; They could meet as a lodge, take part in the Masonic procession on St. John’s Day, and bury their dead with Masonic rites but could not confer Masonic degrees or perform any other essential functions of a fully operating Lodge.[13] Unable to create a charter, they applied to the Grand Lodge of England. The grand master of the Mother Grand Lodge of England, H. R. H. The Duke of Cumberland, issued a charter for the African Lodge No. 1 later renamed African Lodge no. 459 September 20, 1784.[2][14] The lodge was the country’s first African Masonic lodge.[15] Due to the African Lodge’s popularity and Prince Hall’s leadership, the Grand Lodge of England made Hall a Provincial Grand Master on January 27, 1791. His responsibilities included reporting on the condition of lodges in the Boston area. Six years later, on March 22, 1797 Prince Hall organized a lodge in Philadelphia, called African Lodge #459, under Prince Hall’s Charter. They later received their own charter. On June 25, 1797 he organized African Lodge (later known as Hiram Lodge #3) at Providence, Rhode Island.[16][17]

Author and historian James Sidbury said

“Prince Hall and those who joined him to found Boston’s African Masonic Lodge built a fundamentally new “African” movement on a preexisting institutional foundation. Within that movement they asserted emotional, mythical, and genealogical links to the continent of Africa and its peoples.[18]

After the death of Prince Hall, on December 4, 1807, the brethren organized the African Grand Lodge on June 24, 1808, including the Philadelphia, Providence and Boston lodges.[16] The African Grand Lodge was in 1827 renamed the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, in his honor.[19]

Hall was considered the “father of African Freemasonry.”[2] Prince Hall said of civic activities:

My brethren, let us pay all due respect to all who God had put in places of honor over us: do justly and be faithful to them hat hire you, and treat them with the respect they may deserve; but worship no man. Worship God, this much is your duty and christians and as masons.[20][21]




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Almond, E. E. (P. M.)

Anderson, Howard

Anderson, Jimmie

Anson, Conrad J.

Anthony, Ernest L.

Aucoin, Leslie Edward

Austin, W. M.

Baccus, Robert Thomas

Baker, Lee Colwell

Banks, Charles

Banks, Clarence Edward

Banks, Theodore L.

Barb, Martin

Barber, James

Barber, John A. (P. M. & M. W. P. G. M.)

Barnes, William H.

Barnes, William H. (P. M.)

Barnes, Ronald

Barnett, Alexander A.

Barnett, Dick L.

Barrow, Timothy P.

Bass, Frank Randolph

Batchelor, James L.

Bayless, Earl K.

Beasley, Ralph Monitor

Beattie, John Jay

Beck, Robert L. (P. M.)

Bell, Eli Lee

Bell, James M.

Bennett, Leroy

Bethel, Marvin M., Jr. (P. M.)

Bettis, P. L.

Bey, Reginald Dudley

Billingslea, Clarence

Birdies, Freddie L. (P. M.)

Blackburn, Reuben C.

Blake, William H. (P. M. & M. W. P. G. M.)

Blaydes, Charles Lee J.

Bland, Nathaniel A.

Blazer, Isaac

Blocker, Herman C.

Bogan, John Louis

Boone, Stephen

Bost, J. M.

Bostick, Robert

Boswell, Hamilton T.

Boyd, Thomas

Brady, Mark C.

Brandon, J. D.

Breaux, Willie

Brooks, Henry

Brooks, Warren Owen

Brown, Amos C.

Brown, Clifton

Brown, Edward Charles

Brown, Leon

Brown, Louis J. (P. M.)

Brown, Otis

Brown, Thaddus A. (P. M.)

Brown, Willlie L., Jr.

Bryant, Eugene

Buchanan, Philip (P. M. & M. W. P. G. M.)

Buggs, James R., Jr.

Burgess, James E.

Bunkley, Wilbert H.

Burks, Louis

Burns, Frank

Butler, Arthur (P. M.)

Butler, David Lee

Butler, Rossie

Butler, Zonell

Cage, L. Wallace

Cagle, George D.

Caldwell, James L.

Calhoun, William

Calhoun, William Calvin (P. M.)

Calloway, Myron K.

Campbell, Buck Pierce

Cannon, Clifford (P. M.)

Cariel, Andrew B.

Carpage, Steve

Carter, Albert Chester

Carter, Theodore Roosevelt

Carter, Theodore Roosevelt

Cephus, Herbert Lee

Chambers, Roxber (P. M.)

Cheatham, Isaac C.

Cherry, Benjamin F.

Chisolm, Harvey

Chorn, Walter Robert

Clarke, A. C.

Clarke, William

Cleveland, Rudolph

Clow, Warner

Cole, James Boyd

Coleman, Ronald

Coles, Clifton Bell, Jr.

Collins, Daniel Andrew, Sr.

Collins, Elmer R.

Collins, Orie, Jr.

Colter, Sean Terrell

Cooper, Clark Verlin

Cooper, Ezekiel (P. M.)

Copeland, Donald P.

Corbet, J. C.

Corinaldi, Cecil A.

Crane, J. D.

Crawford, Emerson

Crawford, Ernest

Crawford, Ernest C.

Crawford, Hiawatha

Cunningham, Roosevelt

Curry, John F.

Dale, James Archie

Darden, Allan

Davis, A. W.

Davis, David Warren

Davis, Israel

Davis, Israel

Davis, J. C.

Davis, Junior A.

Davis, Lawrence Davis, Jr.

Davis, Joseph William

Davis, Warren

Davis, William (P. M.)

Dawson, James Wallace

Day, Tommie Franklin

De Cordova, A.

Dennis, Urbie D. (P. M.)

Derry, Delgado

Devall, George A. (P. M. & M. W. P. G. M.)

Diggs, Herman Nathan

Dillworth, Leslie E.

Dixon, James (P. M.)

Dixon, Leonard

Dodds, John T.

Dodson, George B.

Donaldson, Joseph D.

Domio, Paul Leroy

Domiano, Isaac

Dorsey George M.

Dorsey, George M. (P. M.)

Doss, Leonard

Dottin, Alphonso  (P. M.)

Dukes, Norman

Dyson, William

Dyson, William

Edmondson, Charles Alvarado

Edmondson, Roy Melvin

Edwards, John T.

Edwards, John W.

Edwards, T. J.

English, R.

Ennix, Frank M.

Evans, Albert (P. M.)

Fielder, Walter B.

Finley, Cecil L.

Flegman, G. F.

Fleming, Carl Stanley

Fletcher, Barney (P. M.)

Flippin, Robert Browning

Florey, William E.

Forbes, Alexander V. (P. M.)

Foreman, Joseph A.

Fossi, J. D.

Foster, A.

Foster, Robert Leroy

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Fountaine, Templeton Dunbar

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Frances, John Allen (P. M.)

Frances, James E. (P. M. & M. W. P. G. M.)

Francis, Hilgrave

Francis, John A.

Fraction, George

Franklin, Lloyd

Frazier, L. A.

Frazier, William L.

Fucles, Herman Edward

Fuston, Hugh R.

Gainer, Robert, Jr.

Gardner, Louis (P. M.)

Garner, Washington E.

Garrett, Harding (P. M.)

Garrett, Harding Bud

Garvey, Cecil Dale

Gastinell, Earl

Gause, Nealie, Jr.

Gentry, Johnny M. (P. M.)

Gibson, A. B. (P. M.)

Gibson, Robert

Gibson, Sylvester

Gilliam, Jeffrie

Gladman, Earl Leslie (P. M.)

Golphin, F. Z.

Gomez, Charles

Gomez, I.

Gomez, Philip J.

Goode, Freddie L.

Goodlett, Carlton B.

Goolsby, L. S.

Gordon, Benjamin

Gordon, Harry Leon (P. M. )

Gordon, Lewis Edward

Graham, Ambrose

Grantham, Curtis B.

Gray, Charles

Gray, Vernon A.

Green, Herbert

Green, Wilmer

Grischott, Christian A.

Guillory, Edmond

Guillory, Joseph

Guillory, Joseph L.

Guy, Zeno

Hackett, Edward M.

Hagan, William

Hall, Andrew (P. M.)

Hall, Joseph E.

Halle, C. Henri

Hamberick, Oliver Grear

Hamilton, G. Z.

Hamilton, James, Jr. (P. M.)

Hamilton, W. H.

Hamilton, Vernon D.

Hanson, Walter Reeves

Harbert, Robert H. (P. M.)

Harding, Walter Cecil

Hargrove, James H. (P. M.)

Hargrove, John

Harmon, Charles

Harper, Richard R.

Harper, William H. (P. M.)

Harris, E. L.

Harris, George Emery

Harris, James D., Jr.

Harris, Leonard (P. M.)

Harris, Sheppard L.

Harrison, Aroldus N.

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Hatcher, Lyle Elliott

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Hatton, Joseph S. (M. W. P. G. M.)

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Haughton, Roosevelt (P. M.)

Hayden, Jeorme Benjamin

Haynes, Melvin

Heathman, Homer William

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Henderson, Albert H. (P. M.)

Henderson, Ellis C.

Henry, Thomas

Herdon, Henry Milton Alphonso

Hickerson, A.

Hicks, Alvin Joe

Hicks, Freddie Jerome

Hicks, Josephus

Hines, Alvin

Hixon, George W. (P. M.)

Hogan, William

Holloman, Charles M.

Holman, Clarence A.

Holman, Cleveland E.

Holmes, Charles

Holton, Henry

Hooker, Jessie Walter

Hopkins, George

Hopkins, John Wesley

Horton, Roosevelt (P. M.)

Hoskins, William, Sr.

Hotchkiss, John Thomas

Housen, Icha V. (P. M.)

Houston, Fred A.

Howard, Clifford W.

Huckaby, J. C.

Hudson, Charles Edward

Hudson, Mack M.

Hunt, Richard S.

Hunter, Thomas H.

Hunter, William A.

Hunter, W. H.

Hutchison, Willie McKinnley

Ingram, Robert L.

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Jacobs, Herbert Albert

Jackson, Allen Earnest

Jackson, C. E. (P. M.)

Jackson, Carl P., Jr.

Jackson, Eldridge Andrew, Jr.

Jackson, Harold

Jackson, James O.

Jackson Maurice

Jackson, O. T.

Jackson, William H., Jr. (P. M.)

Jackson, Randolph

Jackson, Robert (P. M. )

James, Henry

James, James A., Jr.

James, Will

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Jester, Daniel (P. M.)

Jolly, Nick

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Johnson, Andrew

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Johnson, Earnest Carne

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Johnson, Samuel

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Joubert, Wardy G., Sr. (P. M.)

Jupiter, Patrick Austin

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Lane, Peter James, Jr.

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Laws, Joshua Lewis

Lee, Arthur P.

Leonard, Gilbert Joseph

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Levingston, Mark Anthony

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Moore, J. J. (P. M.)

Moore, John Herbert

Moore, Johnnie

Morgan, Samuel Aaron

Morgan, Walter J.

Morris, Herbert L.

Morris, James S.

Morris, Vincent (P. M.)

Morris, Walter

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Moten, John Herman

Motley, Herbert Lee

Murrell, James Clark

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Myers, Frank D.

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Neal, Clyde Edward Spencer, Jr. (P. M.)

Neely, Henry Clay

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Nelson John W.

Newkirk, George L.

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Nichols, Oliver Clair

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Noble, Wilbert Joseph

Nolan, Rentie

Nurse, Alvin D.

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Osborne, Anthony (P. M.)

Osborne, Luther George (P. M.)

Osborne, Prince, Jr.

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Patton, Warren A.

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Pearsons, Andrew Jackson

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Petway, Charles Clarence

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Plouche, Edward W.

Pope, Arthur, Jr.

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Price, Eural L.

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Prosper, George

Pruitt, Sam

Purdon, James R.

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Rice, Otto

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