Original Minutes Record William R. Davie's Initiation into Freemasonry

12.19.2014

While digging through the Grand Lodge’s archive two old rough minute books emerged dating from the early years of the Grand Lodge’s existence. By chance, the book opened up to 24 December 1791. On this day, the Grand Lodge convened at New Bern to initiate a young man named William Richardson Davie.

Davie’s initiation into Freemasonry was presided over by the soon-to-be infamous James Glasgow, whose reputation, career, and Masonic affiliation went down in flames about the turn of the nineteenth century when it was discovered he was defrauding the State and Revolutionary War veterans in a tragic land grant scheme. French native and speaker of North Carolina’s House of Commons Stephen Cabarrus presided as Senior Warden.

Interestingly, Davie would become Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina in less than a year, following Governor Samuel Johnston’s tenure as Grand Master. Davie’s meteoric rise was nothing short of salvation for the Grand Lodge and Freemasonry in North Carolina. According to Thomas Parramore, “The Grand Lodge over which Davie assumed command at the end of 1792 was an organization that had not yet accurately determined its proper course and function.” During Davie’s tenure he restored confidence and legitimacy to Freemasonry in North Carolina, laid the cornerstone—literally and metaphorically—of the University of North Carolina, and instituted more lodges than had ever existed in the State. His improvements to the organizational structure and administrative efficiency of the Grand Lodge propelled North Carolina Masonry into a golden age.

William R. Davie’s final Grand Lodge convened at Raleigh on November 22, 1798. The chief business on this occasion was the appointment in December, of a committee to devise some plan for “erecting buildings in the City of Raleigh” to serve as a permanent place of meeting for the Grand Lodge and repository for its records.

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