The Masonic Apron and Certificate of John L. Place

Chancellor Robert R Livingston
Masonic Library Collection

During the summer of 2021, I received an email from Ms. Jane M. Streett from South Carolina, asking if she could donate to the Library & Museum’s collections an 1805 Masonic apron and certificate that belong to her grandfather (five times removed) Captain John L. Place. Over several weeks, I corresponded with Ms. Streett to make sure that the required paperwork was filled out so that the Museum could acquire these rare Masonic artifacts.

Ms. Street provided some interesting information about John Place that she sent with the Masonic artifacts. Captain John L. Place (1783-1839) was a captain of a merchant ship and a Master Mason. According to his Master Mason certificate, he was a made a member of St. Andrew’s Lodge No. 3 of New York City on August 5, 1805. He apparently traveled frequently as a Mason. An additional item that Ms. Street donated with the apron and certificate was a paper-bound copy of a book that Captain Place took with him to read on his travels (the book was very worn, especially on its outside cover).


Masonic Apron

I was not able to find a large amount of information on John Place’s Masonic Lodge: St. Andrew’s Lodge No. 3. What information I was able to find came from the New York Grand Historian’s Lodges Master List and the New York Grand Lodge Proceedings. St. Andrew’s Lodge No. 3 (later re-styled No. 7 on June 4, 1819) met in New York City. It was chartered on June 9, 1789 by the Grand Lodge of New York. It was first mentioned in the 1798 New York grand Lodge Proceedings, where Martin Hoffman was listed as its Master. In the 1799 Proceedings, it was listed as one of eight Lodges that met in New York City at the time. In the 1804 Proceedings, Martin Hoffman was listed as the R.’.W.’. Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of New York. Its charter was surrendered in 1827, but it was not listed in the New York Grand Lodge Proceedings until the 1832 issue of the Proceedings, where it was listed as St. Andrew’s No. 7. Originally, this lodge was warranted as No. 169 under the Grand Lodge of England (this warrant was surrendered in December of 1835).

Masonic Certificate

The Masonic apron that belonged to John Place probably dates to around 1805 (as this was the year he was raised, as indicated on his Master Mason certificate). The apron is very delicate and has many Masonic symbols that were sketched on the apron and then painted with colored watercolors by hand. This Masonic apron is an interesting example of a Masonic apron created before the Golden Age of Fraternalism (1870-1920), when many of the Masonic supply companies that today provide mass-produced Masonic aprons did not exist.

The Master Mason certificate of John Place is an interesting piece of Masonic history. It was issued by the “Antient York Masons” of New York City in 1805, the year John place was raised. This was prior to the reunification of the Antient and Modern Grand Lodges in England that formed the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) in 1813. The certificate has elaborate printed script, and still has the original red wax seal on it.

Republished with pemission from The Lamplight Newletter,  the Quarterly Newsletter of the Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York

Written by Alexander Vastola
Director, The Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York


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