National Society Magna Charta Dames and Barons

Chancellor's Remarks, 2004

Presented At The Annual Dinner

University Club, Washington, DC

By Lewis L. Neilson, Jr., Chancellor


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

    On behalf of the Officers and Council, I welcome you to this dinner. I will briefly report on the purposes and activities of our Society. We then look forward to a presentation by The Very Reverend Dr. Alec Knight.

    I would also like to thank you for attending the dinner and would like to thank those of you have made individual contributions in addition to the cost of the dinner. As we have maintained modest enrollment fees to enable more participation in our Society the contributions have provided for our enhanced educational mission. We welcome and appreciate your contributions which are very important for our Society.

    We are meeting here today to honor and memorialize the actions of our ancestors over 788 years ago. The impact of those actions in securing certain rights for mankind has been dramatic, resulting in part in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Magna Charta established that leaders are subject to the Law. We each choose how we spend our time and I commend each of you for allocating time today to attend this Dinner in support of our Society.

    I will undertake to articulate some of what I have observed among our membership.   

    Our Society reflects appreciation for fundamental values, expressed in the Magna Charta, embraced by the descendants of the Barons who supported it. When we participate in our Society we reaffirm those values and our shared responsibility to develop awareness of those values. While our Society respects the rights of our members to worship as they chose, I believe that the Barons were inspired by God to assert their fundamental rights. This is contrary to the humanistic view that basically each individual is an expression of a unique self independent of God. Movements like EST and the California communes have been revealed as transitory. Following 911 many Americans found themselves returning to church to express their feelings. That we are winning a philosophical war, however, does not mean that the battles are less challenging or the strategy less important. We respect our role as descendants of history or ancestors of the future. Those who do not have a tendency for self-absorption, self indulgence, exploitation and abuse of others. King John was an example of that. He saw his opportunity to exploit his role as king and the reaction was the demand for the rights in Magna Charta. We need to remember that meetings of our Society provide our opportunity to reinforce and remember the importance of our fundamental values. Thank you each for being here.

    We emphasize fellowship and friendship and our shared heritage and responsibility. We enjoy each other. In a free country we are all entitled to the privilege of our own beliefs and expressions which sometimes conflict. We put aside our differences to emphasize fundamental values as expressed in Magna Charta.

    I wish to emphasize the importance of our Divisions, Chapters and Colonies. We have a wonderful membership, including some who are not members of other lineage societies and some who do not wish to travel significant distances to attend meetings. We can offer them the opportunity to share the fellowship and friendship which characterizes our Society, possibly meeting in June and November. I encourage you to vitalize and continue your chapters.

     This past year I have had the pleasure and honor to visit eight Divisions: Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Illinois, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and Arkansas.

    Each of us is honored and privileged to participate together in remembering the purposes of the Barons in 1215. Each of us who is a member has an established descent from one or more of those Barons; that makes the effort personal. At the same time those who are not members can share the mission as their personal commitment to the freedoms we all enjoy.

    I would like you to join me in a moment of silence in memory of Harold Walker the husband of Mary Walker. I have been going to the Texas Division for many years and Harold was a special part of those meetings and attended virtually every one that I can remember and I would like you to join me in a moment of silence. Thank you. We will miss our friend.

    I am please to announce two new Heralds for our Society: Mrs. Georganne Love Easley from Mississippi and Mrs. Duane Cornell from Kentucky. We appreciate their service to our Society.

    Before introducing Dean Knight, I would like to emphasize several points:

    Since the Dinner in Washington last April the total enrollment has increased from 28,433 to 28,532 an increase of 99 members, now consisting of 23,237 Dames and 5,295 Barons. Of that number, 15,746 have current addresses , 6,396 are deceased, and 6,389 have unknown addresses, an. Part of the increase in lost members is attributable to the NCOA lost member list exceeding 900, however, we do not know how many of these are actually lost. I would like to emphasize that the roll of members has increased over 5,000 since September of 1989.

    I continue to be amazed at the effectiveness of our Website and the Internet. The home page of our Website has been visited 81,939 times since it began, 20,323 times during the past year, which is an average of 56 visits per day compared with 44 visits per day last year and 39 visits per day the year before. Since March 9 when the cards were received the average number of visits per day jumped to 112. We have been contacted by many lost and potential members. Our Email address list has made significant strides, now exceeding 6,000 compared with 3,400 last year and 2,250 the prior year. This does not include the considerable number of additional new addresses which have resulted from the recent mailing but have not yet been entered.  

    You should have received a card from the Society if you are a member. This year we are continuing our effort to reach our members and the use of a card is the most effective and reasonable way to do so. The cost will still approach $5,000.00 for the printing and mailing. We wish to inform each of our members of our website and offer the opportunity to be included in our Electronic Newsletter. We will also reach those of our members who do mot use computers to keep their addresses current. We are also sending the cards to those who are members of the other Old World Hereditary Societies who we hope will become members of the Society. In addition we are sending the cards to those who have been proposed or invited as well as some others who we believe might be interested in our Society. The total mailing will approach 21,000.00.

    An additional objective of the mailing is to keep the address list current so that we can inform the Divisions, Chapters and Colonies of member addresses. That way participation will be enhanced.

    Recently our mailing house was purchased by a new owner. The new owner introduced us to a service called NCOA which is National Correction of Addresses. They take our address list and send it to a vendor who comes back and provides updated addressees for those people who have updated addresses within the postal system. When you receive something back with a sticker indicating a change of address that is the information in the database. When we sent our database to be processed this year it corrected 1390 addresses which saved an enormous amount of time. It also identified 904 addresses which were incorrect and we included those 904 on the website so that they will be identified with a search. I am receiving email from at least one or two people per week concerning lost members and many have been lost for a long time.

    Initially, approximately ten years ago, I put 5,600 lost members on the website. Of that number 1,080 have been identified with either a correct address or identified as deceased. We have made major strides in that process 

    Also on our website, I can provide an example of the sort of thing which we are doing. Lord Phillips who is Master of the Rolls in England and Chairman of the Magna Charta Trust which supervises Runnymede recently gave a speech to the Pilgrims of the United Kingdom. I am a member of the Pilgrims in the United States. I got a copy of their newsletter. I sent an email to the Pilgrims asking for Lord Phillips’ address. His secretary emailed the text of his speech is now on our website. This is the sort of thing which we are doing to attempt to assemble in one place as much information as we can about the Magna Charta and its significance and its message. 

    I am still waiting for biographical information from our members concerning their immigrant ancestors. The concept of the individual immigrant pages has several objectives. One of which is to enable volunteer effort to be shared with other members. The biographical information will basically be a mini - book about the life of the ancestor and will be of special interest to his or her descendants. Another is to provide a forum for questions about the ancestry of certain of the immigrants. As new information reveals possible changes to previously well researched conclusions we will be able to explore the validity of the new information and the assertions of some genealogists concerning the information.

    I would like to remind you to send your email address. I would like to encourage you to visit the website regularly. With the camera working properly, hopefully we will have the address by Dean Knight on the website within the next couple of days 

    I had no concept when I started doing the videoing that you might be able to go home after this meeting, turn on your computer and view a number of the presentations which have been made to our group. As the effectiveness of computer connections becomes more enhanced the quality of the video hopefully will improve

    We are still working on a Tour for this June. We have less than ten people who have indicated interest however; we are exploring ways that those can learn about the heritage of England. Hopefully we will be able to develop interest in and connections with Lincoln. Perhaps our members will have the opportunity to visit Lincoln

    We have left with each person at their place a copy of a proposal form and order forms to encourage each of you to participate in proposing new members. Please ask them to include the genealogical information which is necessary.

     I am delighted to participate in such a wonderful organization and am delighted to be here this evening. I thank you for your attention.

Copyright 2004 - 2005 National Society Magna Charta Dames and Barons

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