The Baronial Order of Magna Charta (BOMC) was founded in 1898 as The Baronial Order of Runnemede during the flowering of scholarly and popular interest in the history and development of the Anglo-Saxon people that characterized the final decades of Queen Victoria’s reign.
For over a century BOMC has been a leading proponent organization whose purpose is the promulgation and support of the principles set forth in that world-pervasive document — the Magna Charta.
The Order has been incorporated in the State of Pennsylvania as a non-profit corporation since 1945, and is also registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. Individuals of good character who can prove descent from one or more of the 25 Sureties who were responsible for holding King John to the terms of the Great Charter he signed on 15 June 1215 at Runnymede meadow in England and five counselors of the King who were in sympathy with the Magna Charta will be considered for membership.
The Baronial Order of Magna Charta…
- collects and preserves information on the Magna Charta, the document’s supporters, its history and its role in national and world affairs and disseminates that information to the general public;
- supports further research by individuals and institutions into this rich history;
- encourages the study and practice of Magna Charta within its historical context and the evolution of its meaning as represented in the concepts of self-determination and the rule of law;
- extends to the public the history and far-reaching impact of Magna Charta by actively seeking out those who may have an interest in supporting and implementing it;
- provides ongoing financial support for the Magna Carta Trust in England.
The Order’s continued relevance was enhanced by its participation in 1987 with the display and interpretation in Philadelphia of a 13th century copy owned by Ross Perot. This helped tosupport the increased interest in America’s traditions of freedom arising from the Bicentennial Celebration of the Constitution of the United States in that year and of the United States Bill ofRights in 1991. In October of 1993, the Marshal of the Order was named a Trustee of the Magna Carta Trust in England.
In 2009, several of the Order’s Banners were loaned to Fraunces Tavern Museum in New York City to support a special “Foundations of Freedom” exhibit featuring the Lincoln Cathedral Magna Charta. Hugh of Wells, Bishop of Lincoln, brought the copy to the cathedral upon his return from Runnymede in 1215, and it has been there ever since.
The Order is governed by a Board of 11 Officers (Marshal, Justiciar, Chancellor, Chirurgeon, Genealogist, Herald, Historiographer, Prelate, Signet, Keepers of the Purse, and Keeper of the Rolls), and 25 Sureties in five Classes of five members each. The Military Order of the Crusades (MOC) is represented by the Crusader Commander.
The Order meets three times each year — in Grand Chapter at a date close to 15 June; in the Fall to commemorate the Order’s founding (this also constitutes the Annual Meeting); and at a special Breakfast in Washington, DC during “Hereditary Week” each April. The Officers and Sureties meet additionally in the Spring and Fall to conduct such business as may be required.
The Military Order of the Crusades is a separate organization operating under the aegis of the Baronial Order of Magna Charta. MOC merged with BOMC on 6 June 1998 but continues parallel operations with BOMC serving, in effect, as advisor. The Crusader Commander is the top MOC official.
The Military Order of the Crusades was founded 15 August 1934 to record and honor the men and women who participated in the Crusades between 1095 and 1291.
THE STORY OF THE MAGNA CHARTA
The Magna Charta resulted from the peace made between King John of England and about sixty of his rebelling barons. After preliminary negotiations with Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton as go-between, John and his party met the barons on 15 June at Runnymede meadow next to the Thames River. After several days of discussions, the document language was finally agreed upon, and on 19 June the barons elected 25 of their number as “Sureties” to hold title to certain of the king’s properties, including the Tower of London, in order to guarantee his compliance with the laws and liberties expounded in the Magna Charta.
Thus began the long legal process of putting limits on kingly, and by extension, governmental authority, and of granting explicit rights to the ruled. From the time it was issued, the Magna Charta became a symbol of freedom to the barons and the people, and kings in succeeding centuries were expected to affirm it.
This compact, originally between the king and his discontented barons, has been invested bytime and later interpretation with power far beyond its original intent and far beyond any other single document in English law. The Magna Charta led directly to the English and United States Constitutions. More precisely,it gave protection to the rights of the nobles and common citizenry alike to be free of arbitrary actions against their persons or property by their sovereign. It has come to be recognized as the cornerstone of liberty and justice in the western world.
It is the well-spring of modern concepts of free speech, free association, the right to petition government for redress of grievances, the right to due process according the law of the land, to public and impartial trial at the hands of one’s peers, the right to travel freely in time of peace,and perhaps most important of all, recognition that even the sovereign is subject to the law of the land.