In 1957, a group of American citizens whose close British ties over the years had acquainted them with The Order of St John and its work expressed a desire to have a more active role in the work of the Order. In December of 1957, The American Society of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem was legally incorporated in the State of New York.
Among the early pioneers in founding and building The American Society were such prominent people as Douglas Fairbanks Jr.; the Drexel family; Grayson Kirk, President of Columbia University; The Right Rev. Horace W. Donegan, Episcopal Bishop of New York; Hugh Bullock, industrial executive; David Granger, an investment banker; and William V. Griffin, one of the founders of Time, Inc.
Over the years, women have played an increasingly important role in the membership and governance of the Priory in the USA, and today women hold high grades and offices in the Order.
The Priory in the USA was formally established in Washington, DC, on May 11, 1996. The new Priory included members of The American Society of the Order of St John. His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester, the Grand Prior, presided and formally handed the instruments of foundation to the Prior of the newly recognized Priory, John R. Drexel IV, GCStJ, who succeeded his father John R. Drexel III as leader of the U.S. organization. In 2008 the Priory Headquarters moved to Washington, DC and A. Marshall Acuff Jr., GCStJ, was installed as the new Prior. Palmer C. Hamilton, KStJ, was installed as the next Prior in 2014.
Since its origins in New York, the Priory in the USA has developed strong, active regional membership groups across the country. As in the beginning, the major work of the Priory in the USA continues to be to raise funds in support of St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group and its outreach programs.