Who was the first Grand Master of Pennsylvania?
Some might say that there were four "first" Grand Masters of Pennsylvania. They were Daniel Coxe, Provincial Grand Master of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania (1730); William Allen, Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvania, "Moderns" (1731); William Ball, Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvania, "Ancients" (1761); and William Adcock, Grand Master of Pennsylvania (1786).
Daniel Coxe, 1730-1732
Daniel Coxe was born in London, August 1673. He studied law and medicine prior to visiting America to take charge of his father's estate sometime about 1701-1702 and took residence in Burlington, NJ. Bro. Coxe was very involved in politics and served in several appointed and elected capacities of the Colonial government. On June 5, 1730, the Duke of Norfolk, then the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England formed in 1717, deputized Col. Daniel Coxe of New Jersey, a member of the Lodge at the Devil Tavern within Temple Bar, London, to be The Provincial Grand Master of the Provinces of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. His deputation took effect June 24, 1730, and extended to June 24, 1732. The deputation authorized Bro. Coxe to appoint his officers for the two years he was the Grand Master. This would explain the entry in Liber B, the account book of St. John's Lodge, Philadelphia, which lists William Allen as Grand Master on June 24, 1731. The Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania recognizes Daniel Coxe as the first Grand Master for Pennsylvania, but William Allen as the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.
William Allen, 1731-1732, 1747-1761
William Allen was born in Philadelphia, Aug. 5, 1704. He was a successful merchant and lawyer, Mayor of the City of Philadelphia in 1735, and Chief Justice of the Province of Pennsylvania from 1750 to 1771. He was the brother-in-law of Bro. James Hamilton and together they erected the State House in Philadelphia, now known as Independence Hall. In 1765, Bro. Allen laid out the city of Allentown in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, where he owned a large property. He also had a fine estate, Mount Airy, in Philadelphia. Bro. Allen was appointed Grand Master on June 24, 1731, then elected Grand Master on St. John the Baptist's Day, 1732. In 1747, Bro. Allen once again became Grand Master, and served this Grand Lodge until 1761. William Allen was a member of St. John's Lodge No.1, "Moderns," Philadelphia.
William Ball, 1761, 1764-1765, 1767-1772,1776-1782, 1795
William Ball was born in Philadelphia, Oct. 6, 1729. He was a skilled goldsmith who prospered in his business and, through the rental income from vast property holdings, became one of the richest Philadelphians of his day. He served as Justice of the Peace in 1776 and 1779 and Judge of Orphans Court for Philadelphia County in 1779. William Ball became a Mason by joining Lodge No. 2, "Moderns," Philadelphia, in January 1751. Apparently uncertain as to the direction of Pennsylvania Freemasonry, Bro. Ball also joined Lodge No. 2, "Ancients" in January 1760 without demitting his membership in the "Modern" lodge, which he retained for another three years. Finding himself at the forefront of the movement of "Ancient" Masons for a new Grand Lodge, Bro. Ball was elected Grand Master of "Ancient" Pennsylvania Masons in February 1760 and received official recognition as Provincial Grand Master of Pennsylvania "Ancients" on July 15, 1761, from the Right Worshipful Grand Master of England "Ancients." In 1795, William Ball was also the first Grand High Priest of the Grand Holy Royal Arch Chapter of Pennsylvania.
William Adcock, 1786-1788
William Adcock was born in England, August 1731. He was a merchant, shopkeeper, and later half-owner of a 15-ton sloop, "Industry." By the early nineteenth century, Bro. Adcock became one of the wealthiest men in Philadelphia. He was active in politics, especially during the Revolutionary War, and served as Justice of the Peace and Judge of the Orphans Court for Philadelphia County in 1779. It is not known when William Adcock became a Mason, but in April 1779 he first appears as a member of Lodge No. 3, Philadelphia. The most noticeable accomplishment of Grand Master Adcock was his presiding over the establishment of the independence of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania from the Grand Lodge of England, officially accomplished on Sept. 26, 1786. No known likeness of Bro. Adcock exists.
(Sources: Cavalcade of Pennsylvania Freemasonry, by Frank W. Bobb, March 1986, The Masonic Library & Museum of PA, and The Master Builders, vol. III, by Wayne A. Huss, 1989, Grand Lodge F. & A.M. of PA)