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Sunday, April 19, 2009

District Deputy Grand Master – Origin of the Position

Most well-read Masons are familiar with the position of Provincial Grand Master, as used by the Grand Lodge of England and – later – the United Grand Lodge of England, and that the man in such a position presided over a Provincial Grand Lodge that was subordinate to the Grand Lodge in London and that the Provincial Grand Master answered directly to the Grand Master in London. Almost all Masons are familiar with a somewhat similar position called District Deputy Grand Master. Though District Deputy Grand Masters do not preside over any sort of Grand Lodge, they do answer to the Grand Master of their Grand Lodge. Like Provincial Grand Masters, District Deputy Grand Masters exist because it is practically impossible for a Grand Master to personally provide for the government of his Grand Lodge due to distances and/or the shear numbers of lodges within his Grand Jurisdiction.

But when did the idea of District Deputy Grand Masters first come about? Which Grand Lodge first instituted the position? The first mention of a position titled District Deputy Grand Master in the Grand Lodge of South Carolina can be found in the proceedings of a Quarterly Communication of that body on 3 December 1844.
At this Communication an amendment to the Constitution was adopted, dividing the State into five Districts, and placing over each a District Deputy Grand Master, who was to be either a member of the Grand Lodge, or a representative of one of the Lodges, and whose duty it was to visit the Lodges in his district, and to decide all appeals until the decision of the Grand Lodge could be obtained.[i]
When Albert G. Mackey published The History of Freemasonry in South Carolina in 1861, this was his only mention of a position called District Deputy Grand Master. Though he does not explain why, Mackey went on to state that the District Deputies were never appointed and that the amendment was omitted in later revisions of the Constitution.[ii] Therefore, as late as 1861, the position did not exist within the Grand Lodge of South Carolina and this author does not currently know when the position was formally adopted.

Additional information from the readers concerning this subject will be welcomed.

[i] Mackey, Albert G., M.D., The History of Freemasonry in South Carolina. Columbia, S.C.: South Carolina Steam Power Press, 1861, p. 333.
[ii] Ibid, p. 334.


David Ervin, Cowpens Realty said...

The DDGM constitutional amendment was introduced in 1870 and passed in 1871.

Source: History of Freemasonry in SC from 1860-1919 by Cornwell and Willis, Published 1979.
(Pages 43,51,56,57)

David Ervin, DDGM
21st Masonic District

Enjoy the blog...keep up the great work.

Magpie Mason said...

Bro. G.,

Also in the mid 19th century, your Ahimon Rezon brethren in Pennsylvania also adopted the DDGM system. This was done in the wake of the "revolt of the country lodges" to give lodges the means to communicate their concerns to the grand lodge.

The Palmetto Bug said...

RW Bro. Ervin,

One would think - being that I like so much to research Palmetto State Masonic history - that I would have a copy of that book. I will have to work on fixin' that.

Thanks for the kind words about the blog. If you happen to be in Mt. Pleasant on the 24th, I'll try make a point of introducing myself.

The Palmetto Bug said...

Bro. J.,

Good stuff. The "country lodges" issue may also have been a catalyst for the DDGM position in SC. When it was first proposed in SC, Charleston - seat of the Grand East - was not to have a DDGM because the GM was expected to reside there.

Jeff said...

Doing a quick Google search I find "William Lovejoy, district deputy grand master 1827 and 1830", in History of Lancaster, New Hampshire By Amos Newton Somers.

There are probably older ones, this was the first hit I found earlier than what you mentioned.

The Palmetto Bug said...


It looks like there may have been a DDGM in as early as 1823 according to that book you have linked to.

Alrighty - we now have the DDGM position going back to least as far as 1823 in New Hampshire. Can anyone get us back to an earlier date?