John Henry Honour

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John Henry Honour

Birthplace: Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, United States
Death: November 26, 1885 (82)
Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Honour and Mary Wilhelmina Honour
Husband of Ann Caroline Honour

Managed by: Alex Bickle
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Immediate Family

About John Henry Honour

Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction Sovereign Grand Commander


August 1, 1846 to August 13, 1858

The year was 1802. Thomas Jefferson was President. This year was also the birth date of Ill. John Henry Honour, 33°, who became the sixth Sovereign Grand Commander of this Supreme Council. Born on December 20, 1802, in Charleston, S.C., Grand Commander Honour led our beloved Scottish Rite, from August 1846 to August 1858 and ended his life of service to the Rite and America in 1885. By then Grover Cleveland was President, America was one nation from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and the United States had become a towering industrial giant whose presence was felt throughout the world.

In effect, the life of Grand Commander Honour spanned the entire period of America's development from earliest youth to young manhood. He was the son of the Reverend John Honour, a mechanic of Charleston, South Carolina, who became a preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church. His mother, Mary, was a music teacher and the organist at St. John's Lutheran Church.

Ill. Honour's parents tutored him so well that he excelled in school and left the formal classroom at age 13, having learned all the humble local schoolmaster of that day had to teach. Unable to afford college, he educated himself in various trades-harness-making, bookkeeping, and grocery clerking-and in 1837 he entered banking with the Charleston Insurance and Trust Company and became its President in 1846. He continued in the banking business being a Director of the People's and State Banks and President of the First Building and Loan Association in Charleston. His personal life was equally fulfilling. He married a local belle, and they had 14 children.

His successful commercial life did not prevent him from many religious and civic endeavors. A Sunday School teacher, he took a strong interest in church affairs, helped found the Methodist Protestant Church in Charleston in 1834, and was ordained a minister in 1836. A member also of the Lutheran Synod, he served as its President and the Editor of its publication, the Lutheran Visitor magazine. He received an honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from Newberry College, Newberry, South Carolina, where he was a Trustee, and in 1871 he became Pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church. Unfortunately, a year or so later Dr. Honour was so afflicted with cataracts that he almost became blind.

In civic affairs, as in church matters, he was active, serving as Acting Mayor of Charleston and a Member of the City Council, Commissioner of the Orphans Home, Commissioner of the Market, Trustee of the Charleston Library, and high school Supervisor.

Dr. Honour was an Odd Fellow and the first Grand Master of that order in South Carolina. In Freemasonry, he was Master of his Lodge in 1826 and again from 1850 to 1852. In addition to serving as Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of South Carolina for 20 years, he also filled the posts of Grand Steward and Grand Secretary. He was also High Priest of his Chapter and Grand High Priest of Royal Arch Masons in South Carolina.

Replacing Grand Commander Alexander McDonald in August of 1846, Ill. Honour assumed his highest office in a time of considerable turmoil. His main policies were to strengthen the Scottish Rite by bringing into the Supreme Council able Brethren from across the Mother Jurisdiction. Texas, Washington, and Oregon became states during his administration, nearly doubling the size of our Jurisdiction. This was a huge task, but, as always, this outstanding Mason performed ably. He established Subordinate Bodies in Florida, Louisiana, and Kentucky. He worked harmoniously with the Supreme Council for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction for the general benefit of the Scottish Rite in America.

Speaking for all the Brethren of that time, Albert Pike said, upon hearing of the death of Grand Commander Honour: "There was no citizen of Charleston more widely known or more universally esteemed than Brother Honour. Benevolent and dignified, of great simplicity of manner, with entire absence of ostentation and pretension, of exemplary integrity, professional and private life, he was one of those men whom the people of a city look upon with affection and reverence while living, and greatly miss and regret when they are no more seen in the places that knew them so well."

It is fitting to conclude this article with words familiar to all Freemasons: "His memory in our hearts, his spirit to God, but living still in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite."

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John Henry Honour's Timeline

December 20, 1802
Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, United States
November 26, 1885
Age 82
Charleston, Charleston County, South Carolina, United States