History of the Order

The Order of St. Thomas of Acon was established in 1974 as a result of twenty years’ research in the Guildhall Library in London by John E. N. Walker, who for many years was the Secretary General of the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia. The ancient records of the Order, written in medieval French and Latin, had been deposited in the Guildhall Library and escaped the Great Fire of 1666. The Order now operates under the official title of The Commemorative Order of St Thomas of Acon.

That we have a revival of this very English Order of Chivalry is due to the untiring efforts of our first Grand Master, Sir John (Walker) of Dorking. John spent more than twenty years searching the archives of the Guildhall Library for information about the Order of St. Thomas of Acon, intending initially to write its history. Happily, he discovered the report of the Installation of the Master in 1510, an account so unusual and so typically English, that he felt compelled to revive the Order, albeit Masonically.

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In former times, few could read or write so that memories were better developed than ours. Pythagoras forbade all writing, considering it “the destroyer of all memory”; fortunately most people were more tolerant. It was not necessary to record what was to be spoken, nor to give more than headings of the order of events; such clues as have survived require imaginative interpretation. Good stories, on the other hand,(such as those of Becket, father and son), were written down for use as homilies by priests.

The Third Crusade begin in 1189 A.D., and on the 8th. June 1191 King Richard I (Richard Coeur de Lion) arrived with his forces, before the seaport of Acre, and captured the city in 5 weeks. Amongst the English force was one, William, the Chaplain to the Dean of St. Pauls, who when he saw the corpses of the Christians about the walls of Acre, had compassion on them. With the aid of a few helpers he buried a large number of the dead, and tended the wounded. Seeing that his actions were being appreciated, William formed an Order for the express purpose of burying Christian Knights who fell in battle in the Holy Land. To this first purpose he added a second, the raising of monies to redeem ransomed captives captured by the Saracens. The Order being formed at Acre its name was incorporated in the title (the Anglicised version of Acre being Acon). The Order was so successful that William was able to build a church and churchyard which he dedicated to St. Thomas `a Becket, thus the Order became entitled the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon. Through disease and death of the other knights fighting in the Holy Land, this Order of English monks was pressed into service as replacements, and became an Order of military monks, (it was also at this time circa 1279 that the Prior lost his pre-eminent position, this being accorded to the Master), fighting alongside the Knights of the Temple, the Knights of the Hospital of St. John the Almsgiver, the Knights of the Hospital of Lazarus and the Teutonic Knights of the Hospital of St. Mary. King Richard I rewarded their valour by according them the status of an Order of Chivalry. Of all the five noble Orders of knights in the Holy Land at this time, only this Order had a purely English foundation – a fact of which we should be justly proud.

In England the Order acquired the property of the Becket family in Cheapside where they built a Chapel and a headquarters. Following the battle of Acre, the Order of St. Thomas of Acon merged temporarily with the Order of the Temple. When the knights were subsequently driven out of Cyprus, the Chapel of the Order of St. Thomas was the only church on the island permitted to ring its bells. Remains of this church can still be visited.

Old records are sparse, the last admission into the Order being recorded on the 2nd. February 1367, but that the order continued is not in doubt as the records of the Installation of a Master in 1510 mentioned above demonstrate and it was listed as one of the Orders dissolved by Henry VIII.

At the dissolution of the monastries in 1538, he offered the Chapel of the Order for sale, and, in memory of St. Thomas (Thomas `a Becket being canonised barely two years after his death during the Lentern period in 1173) , and in view of the association of his father, Gilbert, with their trade, the Worshipful Company of Mercers purchased it. The Chapel in Cheapside was destroyed in the Great Fire of London and the present Mercers Hall and Chapel were built on the site. This is a matter of historical record, lengthy articles have been published in the “Historical Review” ,which is available in most public libraries and in several books. All that remains today to remind us of that building is the recumbent statue of Christ which lies at the entrance of the new Mercers’ Chapel.

Additionally, the Church of St. Thomas, in the City of London, was built in honour of St. Thomas `a Becket, and the Mayor, on the day of his Installation, always attended Mass in that church, before proceeding to St. Pauls.

Guild Hall, London, England

The Order in the United States

Reese L. Harrison, Jr., and a group of other Freemasons, traveled to England in October 1999. There, they attended Craft Lodges and various appendent bodies around the Country. During the trip, Brother Harrison also arranged to have the group welcomed into the Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon in Blackheath Chapel Time Immemorial (T.I.), on October 23, 1999.

Interest in the Order was strong and there was a desire to establish a Chapel of the Order in the United States. On February 17, 2000, Pilgrim Chapel No. 11 and Trinity Chapel No. 12 were consecrated in Washington, D.C. during the annual Masonic Week event. In line with the growth of the Order in the United States, a Province was established for the United States of America on September 11, 2005.

Following several years of rapid expansion across the United States, a separate Grand Master’s Council for the United States of America was established on January 29, 2015.

The Founders in the United States

Today, there are more than 1,000 Knights of the Order, meeting in more than 30 Chapels across the country. Each of those Knights owes a debt of gratitude to the founders of the Order in the United States. We proudly recognize those Knights that served as officers at the founding of the former Province of the United States of America, at its closing, and those that founded the independent Grand Master’s Council.

Founding Officers of the Former Province of the United States of America

Rt. Wor. Grand PreceptorSir Andrea of Byron
Andre E. Lovas
Rt. Em. Provincial Grand PriorSir Reese of Bexar, G. Cel
Reese L. Harrison, Jr.
Provincial Grand MarshalSir Matthew of Philadelphia
Matthew D. Dupee
Provincial Grand TreasurerSir Fred of Mount Pleasant, G. Cel
Fred E. Allen
Provincial Grand RegistrarSir John of Groveport
John A. Busic
Provincial Grand SecretarySir William of Seattle
William R. Miller
Provincial Deputy Grand MarshalSir Bryan of Lewisburg
Bryan L. Berry
Provincial Grand AlmonerSir Robert of Columbus
Robert R. Neff
Provincial Grand Sword BearerSir Thomas of Houston
Thomas B. Johnson, Jr.
Provincial Deputy Grand SecretarySir Loyd of Sulphur Springs
Loyd L. Chance
Provincial Grand Banner BearerSir Thomas of Miffinburg
Thomas Reimensnyder
Provincial Assistant Grand MarshalSir Thayer of Buckner
Stanton Thayer Brown
Provincial Assistant Grand SecretarySir James of Midlothian
James Roy Elliott
Provincial Grand HeraldSir Edward of Belle Vernon
Edward H. Fowler, Jr.
Provincial Grand OrganistSir William of Hopkinsville
William G. Hinton
Provincial Grand DoorkeeperSir Harry of Bremerton
Harry O. Houston
Provincial Grand CellarerSir Ted of Piedmont
Ted. H. Hendon
Provincial Grand CellarerSir Donald of Mildred
Donald J. Panichi
Provincial Grand CellarerSir Joseph of Toftingall
Joseph H. MacIntyre
Provincial Grand CellarerSir Bernard of Houston
Kenneth Bernard Fischer
Provincial Grand SentrySir Ronald of Ruston
Ronald E. Sharp

Final Officers of the Former Province of the United States of America

Grand Preceptor of Province 2010-2015
Past Provincial Grand Prior 2005-2010
Sir Reese of Bexar, KH, GP
Reese Lenwood Harrison, Jr
Provincial Grand Prior 2014
Past Provincial Grand Marshal 2010
Past Provincial Grand Treasurer 2011-2012
Past Provincial Grand Secretary 2005-2009
Sir William of Seattle
William Ray Miller
Provincial Grand Marshal 2012
Past Provincial Deputy Grand Marshal 2011
Sir Joe of Gloucestershire.
Joe Rolater Manning
Provincial Grand Treasurer 2013-2015
Sir Christopher of Brenham
Christopher Guy Dalrymple
Provincial Grand Registrar 2011-2015
Past Provincial Grand Marshal 2005-2010
Sir Matthew of Philadelphia
Matthew David Dupee
Provincial Grand Secretary 2013-2015
Past Provincial Grand Cellarer 2011-2012
Sir Jack of Booneville
Jack W Lester
Provincial Deputy Grand Marshal 2012-2015
Past Provincial Grand Almoner 2011
Past Provincial Grand Herald 2010
Past Provincial Grand Cellarer 2009
Sir Allen of Randolph
Dolan Allen Surratt
Provincial Grand Almoner 2013-2015
Past Provincial Grand Cellarer 2011-2012
Sir Louis of Edinburgh
Louis E Bartrand
Provincial Grand Sword Bearer 2013-2015
Sir Haigh of Belfast
John Haigh Donohoo
Provincial Deputy Grand Secretary 2014
Sir David of Ardencaple
David Alan Grindle
Provincial Grand Banner Bearer 2012-2015
Sir Jerry of Glenside
Gerald J Hamilton
Provincial Assistant Grand Marshal 2009,2012-2015
Past Provincial Grand Almoner 2011
Past Provincial Assistant Grand Secretary 2005-2007
Past Provincial Grand Cellarer 2011
Sir James of Midlothian
James Roy Elliott
Provincial Assistant Grand Secretary 2013-2015
Sir Robert of Muse
Robert B Malwitz
Provincial Grand Herald 2011-2015
Sir Aaron of Muhlenberg
Aaron Ramson White
Provincial Grand Organist 2011-2015
Sir Donald of Manassas
Donald Leo McAndrews
Provincial Grand Doorkeeper 2013-2015
Past Provincial Grand Cellarer 2012
Past Provincial Grand Sentry 2011
Sir Francis of Bluffview
Francis Edwin Smith
Provincial Grand Cellarer 2008-2015
Sir Douglas of Fairfax
Douglas Lawrence Jordan
Provincial Grand Cellarer 2013-2015
Sir William of Sorbie
William Hanner Haynes
Provincial Grand Cellarer 2013-2015
Sir Michael of Aurora
Michael Patrick Rowan
Provincial Grand Cellarer 2013-2015
Sir William of Hollymead
William Frederick Reinhold
Provincial Grand Cellarer 2013-2015
Sir James of Haddington
James W Hogg
Provincial Grand Cellarer 2013-2015
Sir Charles of Garden Grove
Charles Lester Schubert
Provincial Grand Sentry 2013-2015
Sir Bryan of Delabole
Bryan L Hill

Past Provincial Grand Officers

Past Grand Preceptor of Province 2005-2010

Sir Andre of Byron, KH
André Ernest Lovas
Past Grand Preceptor of Province 2010-2015

Past Provincial Grand Prior 2005-2010
Sir Reese of Bexar, KH, GP
Reese Lenwood Harrison, Jr
Past Provincial Grand Prior 2011
Past Provincial Grand Treasurer 2005-2010
Sir Fred of Mount Pleasant
Fred Edwin Allen
Past Provincial Grand Prior 2012
Past Provincial Grand Marshal 2011
Past Provincial Grand Almoner 2009
Past Provincial Grand Doorkeeper 2008
Sir David of Monroe
David Lee Hargett
Past Provincial Grand Prior 2013
Past Provincial Grand Almoner 2012
Past Provincial Assistant Grand Marshal 2010-2011
Past Provincial Grand Herald 2005-2009
Sir Edward of Belle Vernon
Edward H Fowler
Past Provincial Grand Marshal 2008
Past Provincial Deputy Grand Marshal 2005-2007
Sir Bryan of Lewisburg
Bryan Lee Berry
Past Provincial Grand Marshal 2011
Past Provincial Grand Registrar 2005-2010
Sir John of Groveport
John Andrew Busic
Past Provincial Grand Secretary 2009
Past Provincial Grand Almoner 2005-2008
Sir Robert of Columbus
Robert Roy Neff
Past Provincial Grand Secretary 2010-2012
Past Provincial Deputy Grand Marshal 2008-2009
Past Provincial Assistant Grand Marshal 2007
Past Provincial Grand Cellarer 2005-2006
Sir Joseph of Toftingall
Joseph Walter MacIntyre
Past Provincial Deputy Grand Marshal 2010
Past Provincial Assistant Grand Marshal 2008-2009
Past Provincial Grand Cellarer 2007
Sir Palmer of Barre
Palmer E Martin
Past Provincial Deputy Grand Marshal 2011
Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer 2009-2012
Sir Ernest of Lavalette
Ernest Randolph Spradling
Past Provincial Deputy Grand Marshal 2011
Past Provincial Grand Cellarer 2010
Sir Thurston of Shoreline
Thurston Hayden Dickason
Past Provincial Deputy Grand Marshal 2011
Sir Curtis of Bryn Mawr
Curtis Maitland Jackson
Past Provincial Grand Almoner 2008
Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer 2005-2007
Sir Thomas of Houston
Thomas Barnes Johnson
Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer 2008
Past Provincial Deputy Grand Secretary 2005-2007
Sir Loyd of Sulphur Springs
Loyd Leo Chance 
Past Provincial Grand Sword Bearer 2008
Past Provincial Grand Doorkeeper 2005-2007
Sir Harry of Bremerton
Harry Rollins Houston 
Past Provincial Deputy Grand Secretary 2008-2013
Sir Jackie of Virginia Beach
Jackie Lee Harrison
Past Provincial Grand Banner Bearer 2005-2008
Sir Thomas of Mifflinberg
Thomas John Reimensnyder
Past Provincial Grand Banner Bearer 2009-2010
Sir William of Beaumont
William Jacob Giles
Past Provincial Assistant Grand Marshal 2005-2006
Sir Thayer of Buckner
Stanton Thayer Brown
Past Provincial Assistant Grand Secretary 2008-2010
Sir Lawrence of Bellaire
Lawrence Eugene Tucker
Past Provincial Assistant Grand Secretary 2011
Sir Charles of Dallas
Charles Edward Cumming
Past Provincial Assistant Grand Secretary 2012
Sir Gregory of San Juan
Gregory Eugene Wentzel
Past Provincial Grand Herald 2008
Past Provincial Grand Sentry 2005-2007
Sir Ronald of Ruston
Ronald Allen Sharp
Past Provincial Grand Herald 2009
Sir James of Llano Estacado
James McCrory Willson
Past Provincial Grand Herald 2009
Sir Edwin of Farmington
Wayne Edwin Turton
Past Provincial Grand Organist 2005-2010
Sir William of Hopkinsville
William George Hinton
Past Provincial Grand Doorkeeper 2006
Sir John of Milton
John Ammon Brouse
Past Provincial Grand Doorkeeper 2009-2011
Past Provincial Grand Sentry 2008
Sir Ron of Rolla
Ronald E Wood
Past Provincial Grand Doorkeeper 2009
Sir John of Yakima
John G Hardin
Past Provincial Grand Doorkeeper 2013-2015
Sir Quentin of Lake Placid
Steven Quentin Steele
Past Provincial Grand Cellarer 2005-2010
Sir Donald of Mildred
Donald J Panichi
Past Provincial Grand Cellarer 2005-2007
Sir Bernard of Houston
Kenneth Bernard Fischer
Past Provincial Grand Cellarer 2005-2007
Sir Ted of Piedmont
Ted Holt Henden 
Past Provincial Grand Cellarer 2008-2009
Sir Owen of Medford
Owen R Henry
Past Provincial Grand Cellarer 2008-2010
Sir Noel of Maypearl
Noel Hastings Coward
Past Provincial Grand Cellarer 2008-2010
Sir Peter of Shinnston
Peter Y Turner
Past Provincial Grand Cellarer 2010
Sir Larry of Flowerdale
Larry Gene Canada 
Past Provincial Grand Cellarer 2011
Sir Franklin of Weatherford
Andrew Franklin Berkley
Past Provincial Grand Sentry 2009-2010
Sir Buford of Shamrock
Buford John Young

Founding Officers of the Grand Master’s Council for the United States of America

Grand MasterSir Andre of Byron, KH
Andre Earnest Lovas
Grand PriorSir Reese of Bexar, KH
Reese L. Harrison, Jr.
Protector of CanterburySir Michael of Seasalter, KH
Michael G. Carridine
Grand MarshalSir Matthew of Philadelphia, KC
Matthew D. Dupee
Grand TreasurerSir Fred of Mount Pleasant, KC
Fred E. Allen
Asst Grand TreasurerSir Willam of Seattle
William R. Miller
Grand RegistrarSir Joe of Gloucester
Joe R. Manning
Grand SecretarySir Ernest of Lavalette
Ernest Randolph Spradling
Grand HistorianSir John of Groveport
John A. Busic
Deputy Grand MarshalSir Joseph of Toftingall
Joseph W. MacIntyre
Grand AlmonerSir David of Monroe
David Lee Hargett
Grand Warden of RegalaSir Christopher of Brenham
Christopher Guy Dalrymple
Grand Sword BearerSir Jackie of Virginia Beach
Jackie Lee Harrison
Deputy Grand SecretarySir Jack of Booneville
Jack Webster Lester, Jr
Grand Banner BearerSir Allen of Randolph
Dolan Allen Surratt
Asst Grand MarshalSir James of Midlothian
James Roy Elliott
Asst Grand MarshalSir Aaron of Muhlenberg
Aaron Ramson White
Asst Grand MarshalSir Quentin of Lake Placid
Steven Quentin Steele
Asst Grand SecretarySir James of Arlington
James Dale Kirkpatrick
Grand HeraldSir Edward of Belle Vernon
Edward H Fowler
Grand OrganistSir Jerry of Glenside
Gerald J Hamilton
Grand DoorkeeperSir Edwin of Farmington
Wayne Edwin Turton
Grand CellarSir Palmer of Barre
Palmer E Martin
Grand CellarSir Bernard of Houston
Kenneth Bernard Fischer
Grand CellarSir Emmett of Lizella
Emmett R. Johns
Grand CellarSir Louis of Edinburgh
Louis E Bartrand
Grand CellarSir Robert of Sparta
Robert G. Officer
Grand CellarSir Ronald of Ruston
Ronald Allen Sharp
Grand SentrySir Haigh of Belfast
John Haigh Donohoo
Grand RepresentativeSir Leslie of Wealas-ieg, KC
Leslie N. Bale

Founding Knights Humilitas

2015Sir Andre of Byron, KH
Andre Ernest Lovas
2015Sir Reese of Bexar, KH
Reese L. Harrison, Jr.