Lord Darrell Duppa

“It is a beneficent incident of the ownership of land that a pioneer who reduces it to use, and helps to lay the foundations of a new State, finds a profit in the increasing value of land as the new State grows up.”

-William Graham Sumner

Lord Bryan Philip Darrell Duppa. OH my, where do we begin? Born Oct 9th, 1832 – Jan 29th, 1892. Lord Duppa as he Is known in Phoenix, AZ was an adventurer, pioneer, and businessman; among other things. Not a lord at all actually, but instead an extremely well educated and flamboyant adventurer and entrepreneur who didn’t mind getting into the thick of things. Born in Paris, France and classically trained at Cambridge University Duppa spoke five languages and was known for quoting Shakespeare by the hour when called upon to do so. This usually occurred in the local bars and taverns which Lord Duppa was known to visit quite frequently. Although not a Lord by English law; his accent, education, and flamboyant mannerisms didn’t hurt in convincing others of this title. It isn’t known whether of not Lord Duppa introduced himself as “lord” Duppa or if it was just happened to be a nickname which stuck, but this is the name we know him by today.

Duppa first came to Arizona via Prescott in 1863 where he was looking after family prospecting interests. Shortly thereafter he met Jack Swilling and the two became lifelong friends. The union seemed natural a Jack was a fellow prospector and businessman. Together these two frontiersmen were among the first residents of Phoenix AZ, and in fact, it was Lord Duppa who is responsible for the naming of our fair city. Whereas the history books have recorded that he simply proposed the name “Phoenix” in honor of the Hohokam civilization upon which our city was built, I believe there is much more to the story as Duppa was a well know, open high-level Freemason. He was known to carry a well-worn library with him everywhere he went including works by Ovid, Juvenal, and Homer in the original.


Lord Duppa is especially known for the following.

  • Founder of the town of Phoenix and credited in part with the naming thereof.
  • The naming of the town of Tempe ( After the Vale of Tempe in Greece. According to John Lempriere. All vallies that are pleasant, either for their situation or their mildness of their climate, are called Tempe by the poets.)
  • Founding of the town of New River.
  • High ranking Freemason.

Whereas Jack Swilling was the proverbial bull in the china cabinet, Lord Duppa was a bit more refined. I imagine they made a fabulous duo as well. Each intrigued by the other and at the same time complimenting of the others abilities and direction. It would only be a few years after their initial meeting that they would find themselves picnicking atop an ancient Hohokam platform mound known today as Pueblo Grande, (located at 44th st. and Washington near Papago Park). Swilling, Duppa, and several other founders of Phoenix, AZ were attempting to come up with a name for the blooming desert town which they were looking down upon from the ruins.

According to one source, a southerner of the group offered up the name “Stonewall” in honor of the Confederate General while another offered up the name “Salina” in reference of the salt river, but it was Lord Duppa who stood up and said-

“This canal was constructed in an age now forgotten. Prehistoric cities lie in ruins all around you. A great ancient civilization once thrived in this valley. Let the new city arise from its ashes. Let it be called Phoenix.”

Or so the story goes, but some old-timers argue it was Jack Swilling who came up with the name. Either is possible and neither would surprise me, but it’s most likely they came to the idea together as both men were well educated and well read. However, according to one source, it was Swilling’s dictionary they used as a reference to confirm the name of Phoenix.

Aside from The names Phoenix, Tempe and New River of which almost nobody is aware Duppa had any hand in naming; there are only two reminders that this man ever passed through the Salt River Valley.

One is an old adobe house/shack which Lord Duppa built himself by hand and his gravestone. Duppa’s adobe shack still stands at 116 W. Sherman St, just south of the downtown area and is the oldest house still standing in Phoenix today. One would think this would be something to be proud of, or at least a “Phoenix Point of Pride” but no. It receives little to no attention and sits surrounded by weeds and a chain link fence at the edge of a parking lot next to local community center. No tours are given and there is no plaque.

Lord Duppa’s house seems to defy the City of Phoenix’s propensity for tearing down old buildings and revitalizing inner city neighborhoods. Granted there are many old building in Phoenix but they tend to be churches and mansions. My guess is that someone in government who is also affiliated with the local Freemasons has a hand in maintaining its existence. Regardless of the Masons, I would like to see this site built out one day and perhaps a small city park made out of it. Lord Darrell Duppa at least deserves this much.

Duppa is buried a few blocks away from his old adobe house in the Historic Pioneer Cemetery in the Masonic section near B.J. Franklin ( Ben Franklin’s great-great-grandson), and Jacob Waltz (aka The Lost Dutchman.) His tombstone bears all the markings and honors of a high ranking Freemason as it displays front and center the compass and square logo. In addition to this, engraved on either side of this are the seals for the cities of Phoenix and Tempe.


If you’ve read other articles on this site you know I’m quite interested in the topic of Freemasonry, especially how it relates to Phoenix history. Phoenix, AZ is now a hive of Masonic influence. It is written in the architecture, the street grid, and public spaces, and prominent Masons have climbed their way through the ranks here in Phoenix capitalizing on the “Valley of the Sun’s” rich natural resources. Lord Duppa, I believe was one of the first. Was he a bad guy? Not hardly, Masons aren’t intrinsically evil people, it is the institution as a whole and its ability to make profound differences in our world while remaining in the shadows which interests me.

So very little is known about Duppa after he came to Arizona. Though his early life is fairly well documented, it seems that once he made his way to the American Southwest he just sort of fell off the radar. True, he named Phoenix and Tempe, but then what? Most every source one comes across pretty much reiterates the same known facts. One doesn’t find his name on documents or involved with city business at all. He never began or founded any companies, nor had anything named after himself. That he was flamboyant and active is without saying, but what did he do?

It is my thought that he came to Phoenix for an altogether different reason. A reason that runs deeper than simply pioneering a new town in a U.S. Territory. That he was involved in mining and prospecting is no secret. That he was a high ranking Freemason is no secret. That he was extremely well educated and came from modest nobility is also no secret. One can assume safely that his father and brothers were most likely Masons too. We know he traveled to Australia to oversee family business (mining and cattle) but then on California and finally Arizona. That a well educated, high ranking Freemason from a prominent English family wound up in an untapped frontier territory to found what would become one of the most influential cities in the United States today is not a coincidence.

Let Us Not Forget the Spanish

Long before Arizona became the state it is today in the country it now resides in, it was part of Spain. Before this, it was Pimeria (home of the Pima tribe) before that, the civilization of the Hohokam and still before that, the southern edge of Aztlan. There were people running around this part of the world for thousands of years capitalizing on resources and trading with neighboring cultures.

But the Spanish would be the first Europeans to make contact with the New World. It would be them who would explore the vastness of the southwest and bring back news of land and wealth. Theses initial conquistadors were Sephardic Jews, Catholic priests, and wealthy noblemen intent on further enriching their estates.

It is the inherent nature of countries to compete for resources and interest. But there are institutions which outlast nations. Ancient institutions which survive outside of these temporary repositories of power and military might, and we know the most successful of these to be the Freemasons.

I believe it is quite probable that Masons, or offshoots thereof, within the Spanish machine brought back news of either the vast wealth of the American Southwest including precious metals, or news of a more academic nature. Information which would piece together and validate their occulted knowledge base. It is not a secret that the Western U.S. Was predominately settled by members of the Freemasons and other secret societies, organizations which are still very much in control of finance, water, law.

Was Lord Darrell Duppa such an ambassador? History will never know. We do know however that he was a man of great capability and that most all of the business he conducted after coming to the Salt River Valley was done quietly. He was a gentleman of modest taste and enjoined the commodore of his fellow man. RIP Lord Darrell Duppa.


Comments (1)

Ah, a kindred spirit! I’ve been doing lots of research myself; my wife and I live in Tempe and just happily stumbled upon your website. Please reach out to me via email, I’d like to ask you some questions and maybe chat!

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