Freemasonry in Early Liverpool Township

Freemasonry in Early Liverpool Township


First Presented to the Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia A.F.& A.M.
Liverpool-Queens District Meeting, Prince of Wales Lodge, Milton
October 24, 1997 and subsequently on February 16, 2000 to the
Queens County Historical Society
by John G. Leefe MM

F. F. Tupper in his anecdotal yet none-the-less interesting work
Historic Liverpool, states that there were freemasons in
Liverpool Township from the beginning of the settlement in 1759. Master
Masons in the community at that time were John Rider, William Freeman1,
Sylvanus Cobb2 and Thomas Gordon3. Cobb was one of the leaders of the
settlement here and died at the Siege of Havana in 1762. Gordon was
murdered at Port Mouton in 1768 and his murderers were hanged in what is
now the gravel parking lot on Main Street opposite the Fire Hall.
Perkins states that to a large degree the early settlers were anti-

Perkins Diary confirms the beginning of a Masonic Lodge in Liverpool
Township in 1766.

Friday, December 5th 1766…I sup with a number of
Freemasons, at Eben Dogget’s4,[grantee] who, with
Gilbert Malcolm, and Jesse Dodge, were introduced to
that fraternity. The Lodge was formed two weeks ago,
at which John Doggett, Esq.5[grantee, died 1773],
Samuel Doggett6 [grantee], and Robert Slocombe7 [grantee
and first Proprietors Clerk of Liverpool Township],
besides the above mentioned, were entered. It causes
much conjecture among the people. [In 1760 John and
Samuel Doggett were among the partners in the first
sawmill on the west side of the river at what is now
Milton. Captain Robert Slocombe was a partner in the
sawmill built the same summer on the east side of the

The last sentence in this entry seems to confirm Tupper’s view that the
early settlers had reservations about Freemasonry.

It is not known under what authority the Liverpool Lodge was
established. Jonathon Belcher was Grand Master of Nova Scotia at this
time, but there is no evidence to suggest the Liverpool Lodge was
established under his authority. Tuper states there were then a number
of Irish masons in America and he conjectures that there may have been a
relationship between this Lodge and one of them. He further claims that
Anthony Wayne, an agent of Benjamin Franklin, had some connection with
the Liverpool Lodge although probably only as a visitor. The lodge met
at the House of the Clerk of the Peace, Ebenezer Doggett, at the foot of
King Street.

On March 2, 1791 the Liverpool Lodge petitioned for a warrant from the
Grand Lodge of Nova Scotia under the name “Hibernia Lodge”. Does the
chosen name which is an ancient appellation for Ireland led credence to
Tupper’s contention that there was a connection between Liverpool
Freemasons and Irish Freemasonry? In any event, the petition seems to
have fallen on deaf ears for the warrant was not issued for seven years,
not until 1798. It was finally granted by Grand Master Richard Bulkeley8
and Hibernia Lodge, Number 27 was entered on the provincial roll.

Some members of this lodge were: John McVicar, Port Medway who had
served in the British Army in the American Revolution; Colonel William
Freeman9; Elisha Calkin10, the Liverpool Post Master; Robert Huston, a shop
keeper and a Loyalist from Shelburne; Captain Bartlett Bradford11, Captian
of Liverpool’s first privateer, Lucy, Thomas Akins (whose son
would found the Public Archives of Nova Scotia); Dr. Daniel Kendrick12 (a
Shelburne Loyalist) and Robert Callaghan13, who married Liverpool’s chief
lady land owner, Jane Callaghan, daughter of murdered Thomas Gordon.
Enos Collins14 who was raised in 1799, was 72 years a Mason. He was very
shrewd in business including privateering and was a founder of what is
now the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. He moved to Halifax and
owned a large estate which is now St. Mary’s University Campus. He grew
to be the wealthiest man in British North America and his estate was
probated at six million dollars.

Tupper states that the chief “masonic woman” in Liverpool in the early
days was Jane Callaghan. He says she had enough husbands and near male
kin who were master masons to start a little lodge of their own.
Indeed, she did have three husbands and eight children. I believe her
family home may well have been the McLeod house which was recently torn
down when its owner was unable to interest the municipality in accepting
it as a gift. The house with its many unique features may have been
built as early as 1760 and indeed, may have been brought here from New
England. In any event, it certainly was one of the oldest houses in
Nova Scotia: another of our heritage homes lost to the wrecker’s hammer.

Perkins makes the second of three diary entries about Liverpool
Freemasons on Thursday, February 20th 1800..

The remains of Mr. Thomas Bennett are Buryed. The Corps was
Carried to the Meeting House. Mr. Payzant preached a Sermon,
from Eccleastes, 18.8, there is no discharge in that war,
Mr. Man made the last prayer. The widow [Mary MacLeod] appeared
much distressed. the Freemasons walked as Mourners.

Queens County Museum is able to shed some light on local Freemasonry
during the first few years of the 19th century. There are two sets of
minutes of Hibernia Lodge. The first which is a photo copy, covers
December 8, 1801 to December 28, 1802. After the first meeting, there
“was read a Circular Letter from the Grand Lodge [asking Hibernia Lodge
to] contribute something towards finishing the Masonic [Lodge] in
Halifax.” It was decided that no decision would be taken until St.
John’s Day in order to give the Brethren time to give the request due
consideration. It is worthwhile noting that the matter seems never to
have been brought forward again!

On February 9th 1802, the minutes tell us that:

Brother [Elisha] Calkin complained to the Lodge that Brother
[Thomas] Burnaby15 had refused to pay him for the premium which
he had paid for him on his part of the Brig Rover for her
first Cruize, and they agreed in the presence of the Lodge to
Submit it to the decision of Brother William Freeman and Robert
Hutton, to be settle on Monday next, and the parties agreed
before the Lodge to abide by their award.

On June 10th we learn that:

An Entered Aprentice sic lodge was opened which brother
Murray who had lawfully served his time as an EA and wishing to
have his wages raised was examined & found worthy upon which the
EA Lodge was Closed & a FC Lodge opened and he was passed to the
Degree of Fellow Craft after which he was serious of obtaining
further light in Masonry, was examined and found worthy, and the
FC Lodge was closed & a MM Lodge opened when he was raised to
the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason according to Ancient

During this time Hibernia Lodge met on the top floor of Zebulon Perkins’16
store which was located at the foot of Zebulon Perkins Lane, now Parker
Street. It burned in the fire of 1899. The Minutes of the August 10th
1802 meeting approved the annual rent for the hall at 8 Pounds.

December 28th 1802 (apparently erroneously dated 1801 in the minutes)
finds the brethren of Hibernia Lodge in a rather more festive mood:

We proceeded from the Lodge Room/ all except Brothers Rogers &
Burnaby/ to Brother Alex Godfrey’s17 House where we was joined by
Brother Wm. Freeman & F. Gardner18 and enjoyed our St. John’s
festival; we band of Brother Sociebly sic agreeably &
friendly and … depart in peace & good Harmony.

Membership of the Hibernia Lodge during this period was in the twenties:
1801 – 25 members, 1802 – 22 members and 1803 – 24 members. They
included such notables as: Elisha Calkin (privateersman and owner of the
house now occupied by Yorke Tutty), Joseph Freeman (first captain of the
Liverpool Packet in 1812), Thomas Parker, Joseph Barss (most
successful of the Liverpool Packet captains), Thomas Burnaby
(captain of the privateer General Boyer), Benjamin Collins,
Benjamin Knaut19 (privateersman), Stephen Smith (privateersman), Lodowick
Harrington20 (of privateer Rover fame), Bartlett Bradford (captain
of Liverpool’s first privateer, Lucy) and Alex Godfrey (renowned
captain of the privateer brig Rover).

The second series of minutes came to the Queens County Museum in a
rather unusual way. Walter and mary macDonald purchased the large old
house across from Save Easy [at one time operated by Faye Truckier as a
boarding house] and remodelled it to house their real estate and Alan
Fownes’ law offices. During rewiring, floor boards in the top floor had
to be temporarily removed. Here, Walt found some old documents carefully
hidden away long ago. He showed them to me and I immediately recognized
them as Masonic minutes from the very time referenced by Perkins in an
1804 diary entry. They cover the period from May 10th 1803 to November
10th 1807. Walt and Mary generously donated these important historical
documents to the museum.

May 17th, 1803 records that an emergency meeting was held:

We unanimously agreed & concluded from this time forward each
member shall pay 1s / night for dues..and further we are not
to [go] off to refreshment till all the business of the night
is done and Lodge closed & then to have something comfortable
to drink & no more.

October 11th 1803 the Masons concluded to meet in “bretherens sic
Houses” until Captain Zebulon Perkins came home at which time an effort
would be made to rent his rooms again at a cost of 5s a night.

December 15th 1803 an Entered Apprentice Lodge was opened. “It is also
agreed and voted that James Dexter shall have no more to do with the
Lodge by reason [of] Sundry unanswered behaviours”.

January 10th 1804 Elisha Calkin was installed as Worshipful Master of
Hibernia Lodge. It was “also agreed that bylaws be put in order, all
fines & forfeitures be collected & a Lodge of Emergency shall be called
in a few days. Dues collected.” This seems to have had a salutary
impact on recalcitrants for it is noted in the February 6th minutes that
“Many dues collected: Accts. settled & a bill paid to J. McLanan. 35
Pounds in all.”

February 14th there was an “Entered Apprentice Lodge for lectures.
Fellow Craft Lodge opened to FC lectures”. April 10th 1804 “Brother
Robert Huston21 declared off as he intends to remove from the Town very
Soon.” The meeting of September 11th 1804 was cancelled: “This evening
was so very stormy that the Brethren did not meet.”

October 9th the secretary notes: “So few Brethren present that we did
not open the Lodge – But concluded to summon the brethren to Meet for
the purpose of consulting about suspending the Lodge for a few months as
the Brethren at home are so few & so negligent of attending.”22

On November 13th 1804 it was “agreed to meet on Thursday 22 instance at
five of clock at the Hall & consult master to suspend the Lodge & from
thence repair to Mr. [Fadey] Philip’s or some Convenient Place & have a
Masonic Ball & Supper, the Expense which is to be paid out of the
Lodge.” The Master was appointed to conduct the Ball and Supper. “We
have also agreed to give the Widow of our late Brother Lodowick
Harrington fourteen dollars, as a present from the Lodge.”

Perkins mentions Hibernia Lodge again on November 26th 1804 when he

Col. Lovet drank tea & Spent the evening with me, Mr. Sutcliffe
& Spouse also. Invited Col. Lovet to bring his son with him, but
he was Ingaged, I believe with the Free Masons. I understand
are about to Disolve sic their Lodge for the present, as
their Number are diminished, & times hard &c. [Phineas Lovet
came from Massachusetts about 1760 and settled in Annapolis
Royal. From 1775-83 and from 1799-1811 he served as MLA for
Annapolis Township and from 1808-1811 for Annapolis County.]

On that very night Lovet did attend Lodge, but rather than disbanding,
James Parker offered as candidate, was balloted and found worthy of
freemasonry “After which the lodge closed in good Harmony and we
repaired to Mr. Phillips to enjoy a Supper & Ball.” It is also carefully
noted that “Dues were collected”.

A week later on November 30th 1804, the Brethren gathered for more
sobering business. “We agreed to Suspend the Lodge for a few months &
meet on the Second Tuesday in December at Mr. McLean’s House to settle
the Bills & have a Moderate Supper to be paid out of the Lodge funds.”

The next entry is not made until November 12th 1805 when the regular
meeting was held at the home of the Master of the Lodge, Elisha Calkin.
A visitor was Robert Huston, formerly a member of Hibernia and now a
member Wentworth Lodge No. 32. At this meeting Grand Lodge dues of 4s
each was collected.

There is not another entry for a full year. On November 11th 1806 there
were a number of visiting brethren including: John Roberts Jnr. of
Charleston Lodge No. 14; Thomas Akins of Hibernia Lodge No. 17, J.F.A.
Loikles of St. John’s Lodge No. 29, Scotland and Matthew Murray of
Seaforth Lodge 653, Ireland. At this meeting it was unanimously agreed
that Hibernia would now meet every Quarter.

The last entry comes a full year later on November 10th 1807. Present at
that meeting were Master of the Lodge Elisha Calkin, John McClanan, John
Roberts, James Parker, Benjamin Collins and Joseph Barss. Those present
“unanimously agreed to return the Warrant to the Grand Lodge and
Dissolve our Lodge”. Grand Lodge dues were collected and Hibernia
closed. Tupper claims that Hibernia dissolved on September 2, 1817 but
these minutes certainly state otherwise.

So began the long hiatus for Freemasonry in Queens until the founding of
Zetland Lodge in 1847.

1 William Freeman (b. Harwich, MA March 22, 1741) was one of
the pioneers of Liverpool; merchant, trader and shipowner. He married
Mary, daughter of Sylvanus Cobb in 1763. He was a JP, sheriff, judge of
the inferior court of common pleas and lt.-col. of the militia. He was
a member of the proprietors committee and proprietors’ treasurer. He and
Perkins were partners in a number of ventures. He died March 3, 1816.

2 Sylvanus Cobb was a native of Plymouth, MA. He was a sea
captain and soldier, serving at Louisbourg in 1745 and again in 1758. He
was very active in raids against Mi’kmaq and at the time of the
Expulsion of the Acadians. He was invited by General Amherst to
participate in the successful British attack on Havana, but contracted
yellow jack and died there in 1762. He is the most colourful of
Liverpool’s founding fathers.

3 Thomas Gordon was one of the early settlers of Liverpool. He
was a land speculator, and merchant having a store at Shipyard Point as
well as having involvement in the fledgling timber trade. He was a man
of strong conscience and sided with the government at the time of the
Stamp Tax crisis. In 1768 three men were tried in Liverpool for Gordon’s
murder. Two, Laughlin Gallagher and John Woodrow, were convicted of
murder, and third, James Woodrow, was convicted of manslaughter. On
September 4th the murderers were hanged on the town gallows and the
manslaughterer was branded in the thumb with the letter “M”. Gordon’s
body was never found!

4 See footnotes 5 and 6.

5 John Doggett was from Plymouth, MA and was one of the
leading lights of the early Liverpool community. He was a JP 1760,
collector of import and excise 1761, major of the militia 1762 and MLA
for Liverpool Township 1770-1772.

6 Samuel Doggett was a Liverpool pioneer, the son of Ebenezer
and Elizabeth Doggett and was born at Plymouth, MA in 1729. In 1759 he
was one of the committee of four men who applied for and obtained the
grant of the township of Liverpool. By 1760 he and two brothers – John
and Ebenezer – had removed to Nova Scotia and settled at Liverpool. In
1761 he was on a committee appointed to divide the forfeited lands in
the township of Liverpool. He transported many of the new settlers to
Liverpool in 1760-61. He was later engaged in trade with Portugal and
the West Indies. In 1772, he was elected MLA for Liverpool Township. In
1756 he married Deborah Foster at Plymouth. He died in Liverpool in

7 Robert Slocum was one of Liverpool’s early settlers. He
married Ruth Shurtleff of Plymouth, MA probably in Liverpool in 1761. In
1761 he was chosen proprietor’s clerk. In 1769, he lived in Moose
Harbour. He was engaged in sailing and had a share in a sawmill. He was
gunner in the Lucy and died at sea on May 3, 1781 in the West

8 Richard Bulkeley was born in Dublin in 1717 and accompanied
Cornwallis to Halifax in 1749. He was provincial secretary from 1757-
1792, editor of the Royal Gazette, clerk of the council and a
judge of the vice-admiralty court and for part of 1791-92 assumed the
administration of the government. he died in Halifax in 1800

9 See footnote 1.

10 Elisha Calkin was born at Horton, Nova Scotia in 1768, the
son of Jeremiah and Mary Calkin. He married Desire Parker, daughter of
Benjamin and Mary Parker in 1793 in Liverpool. After her death in March
1799, he married Martha Parker, his sister-in-law, in November 1799. He
was a school teacher and JP. He died at Liverpool March 13, 1818.

11 Bartlett Bradford was born at Kingston, MA in 1751, son of
Peleg and Lydia Bradford. He was a descendant of Governor William
Bradford of Pilgrim fame. He owned or had shares in several vessels,
took a large interest in the fisheries, had a share in a sawmill, was
commander of Liverpool’s first privateer, Lucy, made fishing
voyages along the coast as far north as Labrador and engaged in costal
trading as far south as the West Indies. In December 1781, he was
licensed to keep a tavern, in 1792 he was appointed collector of taxes,
in 1795 made a JP. He owned a house, store and wharf in Liverpool as
well as a house at the fishing point below Ballast Cove and a house at
the Fort, now occupied by Mrs. Norma Lenco. He was married to the widow
Hannah Dean. He died at sea in the Mellona in 1801.

12 Dr. Daniel Kendrick according to Lorenzo Sabine, was a
physician who went from New York to Shelburne in 1783. He was 49999 and
a bachelor. His losses as a consequence of his loyalty were deemed to be
300 pounds. He received a grant of 50 acres at Shelburne in 1784. He and
his wife moved from Shelburne in 1790. In 1793 they removed to
Cornwallis. In 1800 he was surgeon to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

13 Robert Calaghan was a fisherman of Halifax, Liverpool and
Guysborough. In November 1782 he married Jane Gordon, daughter of the
murdered Thomas Gordon in Liverpool. She had been married first to
William Headley and then Robert Stevenson who died in January 1782.
Callaghan also had a previous marriage. In 1785 he was head of a family
of eight in Liverpool. He moved to Guysborough County.

14 Enos Collins was born in 1774 to Hallet and Rhoda Collins
at Liverpool. He became a merchant adventurer and member of the
Legislative Council of Nova Scotia, amassed a fortune and died at the
age of 97. he followed the sea in his youth and was a fisherman,
mariner, trader and privateersman. He was one of the owners of the
famous privateer of 1812-15, Liverpool Packet. He also had
interests in whaling and timber. In 1825 he was the dominating figure in
establishing the Halifax Banking Company. Nova Scotia’s first bank and a
fore-runner of the CIBC. In the same year he married Margaret
Haliburton, sister of Judge Brenton Haliburton.

15 Thomas Burnaby was born at Liverpool in 1771, son of
Joseph and Mercy. He married Bethyah Harrington in 1792. He was involved
with fishing as far as Labrador and in coastal trade as far south as the West Indies.
He commanded the privateer General Boyer in 1801 which was owned in part by Enos Collins.
He sailed as prize master aboard the privateer Duke of Kent in 1804-05.
He and Benjamin Collins and 10 hands were put in charge of a fast sailing schooner
which was captured by a Spanish gun boat. They were carried into Cummano, Venezuela
and incarcerated. On September 28th 1805 Perkins entered in his diary: “[Benjamin Collins]
brings Melancholla News of the Death of Mr. Thomas Burnaby” who died in prison
on the Spanish Main.

16 Zebulon Perkins was Simeon Perkins’ nephew. He was a sea captain and very
involved in business. He frequently entered into commercial arrangements with his uncle
Zebulon, unlike his uncle, was a mason.

17 Alexander Godfrey was born in Chatham, MA. In 1791 he married Phoebe West. He was
commander of the privateer brig Rover which defeated a Spanish squadron off the
Spanish Main in 1800. He died of yellow fever in Jamaica in 1803. His only child Ruth,
who died of burns, is buried in Liverpool’s historic cemetary.

18 Freeman Gardner was son of Simeon and Sarah Gardner of Nantucket, MA and Cape
Island, Nova Scotia. He married Mary Gardner and is buried in Liverpool’s historic cemetary.

19 Benjamin Knaut was born in 1768, a son of John Philip and Ann Knaut of Lunenburg.
He married Miss White of Beverly, MA in 1796 and Lucy Collins in 1801 and so was a brother-in-law
of Enos Collins. He was sheriff of Queens County in 1810. He was at various times a privateer.
He was a founding member of Trinity Anglican Church in Liverpool. He died in 1835.

20 Lodowick Harrington was a son of Benjamin and Bethiah Harrington. He married Besey West
in Liverpool 1796. He was a fisherman, mariner and privateersman. While serving as a prize
captain with Alex Godfrey’s Rover, he became separated and with a crew of only a few,
he sailed the prize Nuestra Semora del Carmen from the Spanish Main to Liverpool,
some 2000 miles, making only one stop on the way, in nearby Cape Cod. The reason: the letter
of marque was on the Rover and if caught, Harrington and his crew might well have been
condemned and hanged as pirates. Cape Cod furnished them with food and water, probably
from relatives.

21 Robert Huston was a Loyalist settler at Shelburne and moved to Liverpool in 1796.
He was a member of the Grand Jury and an Overseer of the Poor.

22 It is clear that many, indeed perhaps a majority of the masons of this time often spent
long periods of time as sea and so their business prevented them from attending regularly.