National Society Magna Charta Dames and Barons

Chancellor's Remarks, 2005

Presented At The Annual Dinner

University Club, Washington, DC

April 16, 2005

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 Mr. Tim Guy.

 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 especially thank Carol Cornell for hosting us this evening at the University Club.

We are meeting here today to honor and memorialize the actions of our ancestors over 789 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.

We are all born with potential and legacies. One of our legacies is commitment to individual rights and those of you who have joined our Society have recognized that commitment. Please encourage others to reaffirm their commitment to individual rights by joining and supporting our Society. Individual rights are as important today as they were in 1215 and we need to be vigilant in our efforts to maintain them. I believe that respect for individual rights enhances creativity and tyranny stifles creativity.

We wish to recognize that the Magna Charta is a significant gift from English speaking peoples to mankind. It was the people of England who risked their lives for the principles of liberty expressed in the Magna Charta as the American colonists risked their lives for the freedom to exercise many of those principles independently. We in American welcome opportunities to join with our English friends to embrace our shared heritage of liberty.

Our Society emphasizes 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 the Washington Division and the Texas Parliament. The past Thursday I was honored to represent our Society at the opening of the Conference for the Colonial Dames of the 17th Century.

We were pleased that a number of our members attended the reception on February 16, 2005 hosted by the New York Commandery, Military Order of Foreign Wars of the United States, in conjunction with the New York Conference of Patriotic and Hereditary Societies. The New York Division of our Society is a participant in that Conference.

Along with a number of organizations we participated in the Philadelphia Commonwealth 2005 Celebration on February 20, 2005. The celebration was an outstanding success with approximately 200 participating in the dinner and dance on Sunday February 20 at the Union League of Philadelphia. The proceeds were donated to Save the Children Tsunami Relief Fund. Our Society had a table and we had the opportunity to explain our mission and to share information about out activities. We look forward to future programs involving the organizations participating in the Celebration.

We have presented some outstanding tours for the past several years which have been prepared by excellent travel professionals. While those who have participated have been enthusiastic we have not had enough people sign up to make the recent tours economical. Some of our members have traveled individually and had wonderful experiences; however, we need more participation for tours to be presented by our Society. If our members would be interested in an educational tour, please let me know and we will undertake to work with the travel professionals to develop one.

The purpose of our educational tours is to visit locations of cultural and historical significance primarily relating to the Magna Charta. We are undertaking to reduce the cost while maintaining quality.

We look forward to June, 2005 which will be the 790th anniversary of the Charter. We then look forward to 2007 for the visit of the Lincoln copy of the Magna Charta to the United States in celebration of the 400th anniversary of the settlements in Virginia Beach and the Jamestown Colony. After his remarks Mr. Guy will briefly provide some information about that visit. We then look forward to celebration of our Society’s centennial anniversary in 2009. That anniversary coincides with the golden anniversary of the founding of the Texas Division and I was pleased to accept the invitation of the Texas Division to host the joint celebration in 2009. Texas has an outstanding annual Parliament and I hope that members of our Society will join in the celebration. After that event we will celebrate the 800th anniversary on the sealing of Magna Charta in 2015.

For each event I plan to assemble a task force and welcome interest and participation.

I am particularly pleased that Mrs. Rose Mary Mckeown is working part time in our office, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. An experiences genealogist, she is promptly processing proposals and lineage forms. Should you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact her.

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 several of our deceased leaders. Richard Jenkins has been our Marshall since I became Chancellor. I met Dick when we were both members of the Council of the Welcome Society of Pennsylvania and we became friends. I was delighted that he was serving as Marshall and continued to do so until his death this past year. Dr. Roswell Levi Atwood was also a Marshall of our Society and it is with sadness that I learned of his death. He was very active in a number of lineage Societies. We will now have a moment of silence in their memory.

I am pleased to introduce Mr. Southwick Cary Briggs as the Marshall of our Society. I am also pleased to announce two new Heralds for our Society and I am particularly delighted that they have consented to do so. The role of our National Officers is vital, as I said before, we appreciate people helping out in our missions: Mrs. Jesse Leonard from Alabama and Mrs. Sally Baldwin from Georgia. Thank you very much. We appreciate their service to our Society.

Before introducing Tim Guy, I would like to emphasize several points:

Since the Dinner in Washington last April the total enrollment has increased from 28,532 to 28,820 an increase of 288 members, now consisting of 23,416 Dames and 5,404 Barons. Of that number, 16,834 have current addresses, 6,563 are deceased, and 5,423 have unknown addresses. Last year a postal service program identified over 859 members as having undeliverable addresses. I reported at the meeting last year that we were uncertain how many were actually lost and enough have turned out to have been correct addresses that we have added them back to our listing. I am pleased however that the address correction portion worked very well and located many lost members. 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 103,740 times since it began, 21,801 times during the past year, which is an average of 60 visits per day compared with an average of 56 visits per day last year and 44 visits per day the year before and 39 visits per day the year before that. So we are definitely on the up curve in terms of participation.

Our Email address list has made significant strides, now exceeding 8,500 compared with 6,000 in 2004, 3,400 in 2003 and 2,250 in 2002. We wish to reach out to members of other lineage Societies as well as our own and those who share our interest in Constitutional Liberty. Our Society does more than have an annual meeting and we need to let people know what we do and provide them with substantive educational 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 Mr. Tim Guy on the website within the next couple of days.

Each year brings challenges and opportunities and 2005 could be called a year of information overload. Communication in general and the internet in particular is expanding dramatically with the result that we are learning more about our environment and learning it quicker. Unfortunately, few of us have the time to look at all of the information which is available, so we still end up viewing the headlines or watching television and having our news managed. Cable companies can provide hundreds of television stations. Blogs can enable millions to write their own news. Unfortunately few have the time to read the information.

I spend considerable time managing the Society website and making information available to our members and the general public as educational outreach. The key to the website is the Electronic Newsletters which encourage our members and friends to visit the site when there is new information.

We are in the process of finalizing a written Newsletter covering the year 2004 and we initially plan to send it to the Regents and those who have recently contributed more than $25.00 to our Society. This decision is based on cost as we would like to send out written newsletters to all of our members.

We are planning for a certificate with shields individually printed or painted for those who are 2005 Honorary Surety Barons, not necessarily members of our Society but we do hope that members will receive the certificates which will be given out annually with 2006, 2007, etc. These would recognize contributions in excess of $500.00. We are also planning for grave markers which will include the Society’s trademarked logo. We are planning for the large insignia to be made with a neck chain. We are planning for tote bags. Any suggestions for additional items will be welcome. We must be alert, however, not to detract from the dignity of our Society.

We are planning to encourage new divisions by providing model bylaws and revised Instructions and Guidelines.

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 2005 National Society Magna Charta Dames and Barons

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