Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Of the Grand Deacons

A Treatise on the Constitutional Laws, Usages And Landmarks of Freemasonry
by Dr.Albert Gallatin Mackey, 1856

But little need be said of the Grand Deacons. Their duties correspond to those of the same officers in subordinate lodges. The office of the Deacons, even in a subordinate lodge, is of comparatively modern institution. Dr. Oliver remarks that they are not mentioned in any of the early Constitutions of Masonry, nor even so late as 1797, when Stephen Jones wrote his "Masonic Miscellanies," and he thinks it "satisfactorily proved that Deacons were not considered necessary, in working the business of a lodge, before the very latter end of the eighteenth century" [Book of the Lodge, p. 115 (U.M.L., vol. i., book 2, p. 78). ]

But although the Deacons are not mentioned in the various works published previous to that period, which are quoted by Dr. Oliver, it is nevertheless certain that the office existed at a time much earlier than that which he supposes. In a work in my possession and which is now lying before me, entitled "Every Young Man's Companion, etc., by W. Gordon, Teacher of the Mathematics," sixth edition printed at London, in 1777, there is a section, extending from page 413 to page 426, which is dedicated to the subject of Freemasonry and to a description of the working of a subordinate lodge. Here the Senior and Junior Deacons are enumerated among the officers, their exact positions described and their duties detailed, differing in no respect from the explanations of our own ritual at the present day. The positive testimony of this book must of course outweigh the negative testimony of the authorities quoted by Oliver and shows the existence in England of Deacons in the year 1777 at least.

It is also certain that the office of Deacon claims an earlier origin in America than the "very latter end of the eighteenth century;" and, as an evidence of this, it may be stated that, in the "Ahiman Rezon" of Pennsylvania, published in 1783, the Grand Deacons are named among the officers of the Grand Lodge, "as particular assistants to the Grand Master and Senior Warden, in conducting the business of the Lodge." They are to be found in all Grand Lodges of the York Rite and are usually appointed, the Senior by the Grand Master and the Junior by the Senior Grand Warden.

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