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Henry W. Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Henry W. Coil Library and Museum of Freemasonry Research Collections
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November 1, 1753 letter by Thomas Dunckerley. Dunckerley was --Thought to be an illegitimate son of King George II --A gunner in the Royal Navy until resigning his commission in 1767 --Called to the Bar in 1777, although he made little progress in that profession --An early supporter of Royal Arch Masonry, serving as Superintendent of the Grand Chapter of Holy Royal Arch Masons in over eighteen counties --The first Grand Master of the order of masonic Knights Templars formed in London in 1791 --Rumored by some to be a possible source for the Mark Master Mason degree --Past Senior Grand Warden of England --Provincial Grand Master for the Counties of Dorset, Essex, Gloucester, Hereford, Somerset and Southampton with the City and County of Bristol and the Isle of Wight It is originally from him that we get a part of our E.A. lecture (via William Preston's wordsmithing): "Truth is a divine attribute and the foundation of every virtue…" Here is the text as he wrote it. "Truth, as it is a divine attribute, so is it the foundation of all Masonic Virtues. It is one of our grand Principles; for to be good men and true, is part of the first great lesson we are taught: and at the commencement of our Freedom we are exhorted to be fervent and zealous in the pursuit of Truth and Goodness. It is not sufficient that we walk in the Light, unless we do the Truth also. All hypocrisy and deceit must be banished from among us: they are sincerity and plain-dealing that complete the harmony of a Lodge, and render us acceptable in the sight of Him unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid. There is a charm in Truth that draws and attracts the mind continually toward it. The more we discover, the more we desire; and the great reward is Wisdom, Virtue, and Happiness. This is an edifice founded on a rock, which malice cannot shake or time destroy." (From Light and Truth of Freemasonry Explained, 1757-just four years into his Masonic career) A transcription of the letter is as follows: Sir, When I reflect on your continued kindness to me for this twelve years past, & that all my preferments in the Royal Navy proceeded from your Recommendations; when I consider how small a claim I have to your friendship, how little merit to plead (no more than being the good son of a poor old woman who insisted on your Bounty and whose decline of life was made comfortable by that support your Generosity afforded her for having the care of your Infancy). I say Sir, when I consider what small pretensions I have to your favour, it is with the greatest reluctance I sit down to write to you; least by so many solicitation I should at last offend so good a Patron. The favor I am now to ask of you is to desire you will request of such Lords of the Admiralty as you are acquainted with, that when Mr. Port the present Gunner of his Majesty's ship the Duke is superannuated (which he intends to apply for in less than a fortnight, being very infirm and unable to his duty) I may be appointed gunner of the said ship. If I succeed in this, it will be an addition of £13 per annum to my present pay: a great addition! In proportion to the many domestic articles which Mrs. Dunckerley (a weak sickly woman) and four children require from forty pounds a year. Mr. Port's intention to request a superannuation, he has communicated to no other gunner but me; therefore your application for me to succeed him, will be prior to all others. I am now gunner of his Majesty's ship the Tyger in this harbor. I humbly desire you'll let me know your success by directing to me in the rope-walk Portsmouth Common. May that Great Being in whom we are all dependent bless you with health and contentment here, & everlasting happiness hereafter. Portsm'th Common Your Most Obliged [illegible] 1st Nov'r 1763 Tho. Dunckerley

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