National Society Magna Charta Dames and Barons

Chancellor's Remarks, 1999

THE CHANCELLOR'S REMARKS
PRESENTED AT THE ANNUAL LUNCHEON
NATIONAL SOCIETY MAGNA CHARTA DAMES AND BARONS
BY LEWIS L. NEILSON, JR., CHANCELLOR
APRIL 19, 1999

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Magna Charta Dames and Barons, I am delighted to attend this luncheon and honored to address you as your Chancellor.

This year I will limit my remarks as we have a very interesting program and I hope to complete it before 2:45. The Chancellor=s Report will be mailed to our Officers and Regents. After my remarks, I will introduce my brother Henry Wurts who will present a brief financial report. Then we are pleased that Mrs. Norick, Regent from Oklahoma will share her enthusiasm for our Tour Program. Then Miss Bush, Regent from New York, will introduce our outstanding speaker, Dr. Ray Raymond, who has flown down from New York just now.

I would like to thank our National Officers and Regents for their efforts during the past year. The meetings of our Divisions, Colonies and Chapters are our front line. Those meetings with knowledgeable and informed speakers who are historians, educators, lawyers or genealogists provide education for our members. I would encourage our members to record or videotape all presentations with a copy to National

Please rise for a moment of silence in memory of our deceased members including our National Vice President, Mrs. Emma Reeves. Thank you.

Our most important focus continues to be our purposes, which are:

1) To establish and maintain a Society for the encouragement of patriotic and literary fellowship,

2) To perpetuate the memory of the Barons of England who in or before the year 1215 rendered actual service toward securing, and who, after many defeats, finally did secure the articles of constitutional liberty, properly called Magna Charta, from their sovereign, John, King of England, which he ratified and delivered to them "in the meadow which is called Runnymede between Windsor and Staines," on the Thames, above London, on the 15th day of June, A. D. 1215,

3) To promote good fellowship among the descendants of those who compelled King John to grant Magna Charta,

4) To keep ever in mind the events connected with this most celebrated episode in the annals of the English race,

5) To inspire the members of this Society and others with admiration and respect for the principles of Constitutional Government, first established by the statutes of the Great Charter granted by King John, and

6) To observe the anniversary of the date of the granting of this the most famous Charter of rights and liberties.

As we move forward to the future, please remember these purposes.

This is our 10th luncheon since I was elected Chancellor in 1989. I appreciate your continuing participation.

I will highlight some of the accomplishments of our Society during the past 10 years as well as future projects for our Society. This meeting continues our tradition of fellowship and friendship for our members.

Upon my election as Chancellor in 1989, I found approximately 22,500 note cards for our members, many hand written, as well as many lineages which had not been reviewed.

Moving from the challenges, a succession of secretaries began entering into a computer database names (including maiden names) and ancestors using the roll books. To ensure accuracy, every name was reviewed. The next step was to copy addresses from the note cards. That database enabled us to contact our membership. After an initial mailing, mail to lost successors was sent in care of their primary members and visa versa. After a few years lists of the five thousand or so lost members were sent to one thousand of our most active members. In 1998, the lost members were added to the WebSite. Using the WebSite, we have located approximately 150 lost members and have identified approximately 70 who are deceased.

We began receiving considerable requests for lineages. Some members, particularly successor members, were not aware of their lineages. We could not afford the staff time to effective respond to these requests and I undertook the process of computerizing our genealogies. At the present time, the Atop@ database has over 28,700 entries including over 800 immigrant ancestors. The bottom database has over 10,000 entries. We still have a long way to go. Hopefully we will be able to provide charts in the future.

Since September 1, 1989, the role of members has increased from 22,547 to 27,485, an increase of 4,938. Many of the new members are successors and approximately 300 are successors as a result of the perpetual memberships which preceded 1971.

Since the luncheon in Washington last April, the total enrollment has increased from to 27,224 to 27,485, an increase of 261 members, now consisting of 22,823 Dames and 4,973 Barons. Of that number, 16,313 have current addresses, 5,386 are deceased, and 5,786 have unknown addresses.

I am please to announce that Mrs. Collier from Louisiana is now a Vice President and that Mrs. Ragsdale from Missouri is a Herald along with Mrs. Meyer and Mrs. Merrill from Texas. We appreciate the efforts of our National Officers to provide perspective for our Society.

I understand that some lineage Societies are having problems attracting new members. Some Societies have dropped a lineage requirement for membership. We are growing and thriving along with interest in our Society and its activities. Our New York Division is revitalized and we are looking for exciting developments throughout the United States.

We have held luncheons in Washington, DC since 1990 and in Philadelphia since 1992. We held a luncheon in New Orleans in 1997, with a reception at the lovely home of Mr. and Mrs. Randolph Richmond. We have hosted tours to England in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1998. We have hosted tours to Scotland, Ireland and France, each followed by a stay within Windsor Castle. We are planing for an England Tour this June and a Wales/England Tour this August.

We are planning two Educational Tours for the year 2000. Our Low Season Magna Charta Educational Tour is planned for July 19 - 29 with an estimated cost of $3,700.00 per person based on 25 participants. This Tour will focus on castles and historic homes in London, Suffolk, Kent and Windsor primarily relating to Magna Charta and the descendants of the Magna Charta Barons. We will visit Runnymede where the Magna Charta was sealed. During a boat trip down the Thames, we will also see the Millennium Dome. For our June trip we will have the opportunity to experience traditional pomp and ceremony at Royal Ascot and Garter Day at Windsor Castle. This High Season Tour, planned for June 8-18, with an estimated cost of $5,400.00 per person based on 25 participants, includes support for worthy English Charities including the Magna Carta Trust and the Order of St. John, a charity luncheon with a member of the Royal Family and an extremely enjoyable learning experience. Private visits to homes and castles, some not open to the public, and excellent guides add to our outstanding and enjoyable trips. We welcome participants who share our interest in the origin of our constitutional liberty and genealogy. It is not necessary to be a member of our Society to participate.

Returning to our accomplishments, our Divisions Colonies and Chapters have enabled our members throughout the country to participate in our purposes.

We have initiated an educational program based on modest awards for essays.

We have developed a Web Site with over 7,000 visitors during the past year. The site includes pages for each of the 25 Surety Barons. It also includes lineage forms and pages for 56 of the immigrant ancestors with noble ancestry. Striving for genealogical excellence, we plan for the estimated 1,000 immigrant pages to be a source of information and forum for discussion concerning each immigrant. We ask for volunteer assistance for this effort. We can provide up to date information concerning the ancestral lines for each immigrant.

We have utilized the Web Site to provide information about our Society to our members and those who might share our interests. We have included a financial report and directions on how to locate our listing on the I.R.S. Web Site as a 501(c)(3) public charity.

 

We have continuing projects, welcoming new members and enhancing our current programs. We need to be constantly alert to new changes in our sphere of operation. We must try to inspire our membership to enhance our purposes.

During our June Educational Tour in Bury St. Edmunds, England our participants saw in the Cathedral the Barons= Shields which had been donated by members of our Society. We will make a modest contribution to memorialize the actions taken at Bury St. Edmunds by the Barons who met in November of 1214 to pledge among themselves to secure Magna Charta. Reviewing our office records, I learned that our Society contributed at least two Barons= Shields to the church in Eglam, England. Our member, Lady Fairhaven, along with her two sons, donated the field of Runnymede to the National Trust of England. As we continue our Tours to England and learn about the country which produced Magna Charta, we will continue to develop our relationship with those in England who share our interest and commitment to Magna Charta. In the United States, the Texas Division has contributed toward a memorial to Magna Charta at Howard Payne University at Brownwood, Texas which includes banners of the Barons as well as information about the Great Charter. Our Divisions, Chapters and Colonies have made many contributions of books concerning Magna Charta and its traditions as well as awards and contributions to the National Society. The contributions to the National Society are particularly important as they enable the Society to implement our purposes and to communicate using our Newsletter.

In summary`

Our Society can undertake the following: 1) implement our purposes with combined cooperation of our membership; 2) enhance the sense of community, linked by an ancestral bond, among our membership; 3) provide Instructional and Guidelines for our Divisions, Chapters and Colonies; 4) communicate our mission as much as possible; 5) secure the future of the Society by asking for contributions to operations and endowment; and 6) arrange for operations of the Society.

 

You can do the following: 1) participate in Society activities - attend your local meetings and form a local chapter if there isn=t one nearby; 2) contact your local college or university to encourage involvement in our educational programs; 3) propose new members who will continue the Society=s traditions; 4) research your immigrant ancestor for the WebSite; 5) make a contribution to the Society to enable our programs to continue and succeed; 6) participate in an Educational Tour; and 7) suggest ways the Society can improve and memorialize the message of Magna Charta.

The countdown to our Centennial serves as a theme for our future efforts and to focus our efforts. In 10 years the Society will be 100 years old. The genealogical databases which we are working on today should be complete. The educational programs which we are initiating today should be in place. Hopefully we will have a substantial endowment which will provide income for our headquarters and for grants for scholars. We should have produced literature or programs which can be used in schools throughout the country to highlight the role of Magna Charta in the development of our Constitution. We will have continued programs at the National, State, and local levels to provide education and perspective for our members. We will have expanded the number of state divisions and chapters so that more of our members will be able to participate. All these accomplishments will take considerable work; please volunteer and participate. We must use our creativity to chart new courses for our Society. We must keep our minds open to new ideas.

I would like to emphasize a point which I have made on a number of occasions. National can provide record keeping, genealogical research, insignia, instructions and guidelines, and questions resolution; our members must provide the initiative for our divisions.

Please let me know your suggestions.

I am pleased to be with you today.

Copyright 81999 National Society Magna Charta Dames and Barons

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