|Part of a "series on|
The Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of Virginia, commonly known as "Grand Lodge of Virginia", claims to be the oldest independent["citation needed] "masonic grand lodge in the "United States with 34,000 members in over 300 lodges. Both the "Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania and the "Grand Lodge of Massachusetts dispute this claim, each claiming to be the oldest Grand Lodge in the United States. The Grand Lodge of Virginia was constituted on 30 October 1778, with "headquarters in "Williamsburg, Virginia. The grand lodge relocated its offices to "Richmond, Virginia, in 1784, where it remains to this day.
The plans for its creation took root in a convention held on May 6, 1777. The grand lodge was formally constituted on October 30, 1778, with its headquarters in "Williamsburg, Virginia by the union of nine chartered lodges: Norfolk, at "Norfolk; Port Royal in "Caroline County; Blandford at "Petersburg; Fredericksburg at "Fredericksburg; Saint Tammany at "Hampton; Williamsburg at "Williamsburg; Botetourt at "Gloucester Courthouse; Cabin Point in "Prince George County and Yorktown at "Yorktown. Three other lodges in the colonial era chose not to participate.
"George Washington was invited to be the first Grand Master, but was unable to accept the honor due to his military duties in the "war for American independence, and because he had never been installed as master or warden of a lodge, he did not consider it masonically legal to serve as Grand Master.
In 1865 the "Grand Lodge of West Virginia was formed taking a number of Lodges that had been part of the Grand Lodge of Virginia but that were now part of the state of "West Virginia that had seceded from Virginia at the start of the "American Civil War. The Grand Lodge of West Virginia was founded in "Fairmont in April 1865 with William Bates as its first Grand Master. Over the following period there was confusion as many West Virginia lodges still maintained loyalty to the Grand Lodge of Virginia although all the West Virginia Lodges that were originally chartered by Virginia were re-chartered by the Grand Lodge of West Virginia within the next fifty years.