The Baronial Order of Magna Charta (BOMC) was founded in 1898 as The Baronial Orderof Runnemede during the flowering of scholarly and popular interest in the history anddevelopment of the Anglo-Saxon people that characterized the final decades of Queen Victoria’sreign.
For over a century BOMC has been a leading proponent organization whose purpose is thepromulgation and support of the principles set forth in that world-pervasive document — theMagna Charta.
The Order has been incorporated in the State of Pennsylvania as a non-profit corporation since1945, and is also registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. Individualsof good character who can prove descent from one or more of the 25 Sureties who wereresponsible for holding King John to the terms of the Great Charter he signed on 15 June 1215 atRunnymede meadow in England and five counselors of the King who were in sympathy with theMagna Charta will be considered for membership.
The Baronial Order of Magna Charta…
- collects and preserves information on the Magna Charta, the document’s supporters, itshistory and its role in national and world affairs and disseminates that information to thegeneral 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 theevolution of its meaning as represented in the concepts of self-determination and the ruleof law;
- extends to the public the history and far-reaching impact of Magna Charta by activelyseeking 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 displayand 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 BicentennialCelebration 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 MagnaCarta Trust in England.
In 2009, several of the Order’s Banners were loaned to Fraunces Tavern Museum in New YorkCity to support a special “Foundations of Freedom” exhibit featuring the Lincoln CathedralMagna Charta. Hugh of Wells, Bishop of Lincoln, brought the copy to the cathedral upon hisreturn 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, Keepers of the Purse, Rolls and Signet), and 25Sureties in five Classes of five members each. The Military Order of the Crusades (MOC) isrepresented 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 aspecial Breakfast in Washington, DC during “Hereditary Week” each April. The Officers andSureties 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 theBaronial Order of Magna Charta. MOC merged with BOMC on 6 June 1998 but continuesparallel operations with BOMC serving, in effect, as advisor. The Crusader Commander is thetop MOC official.
The Military Order of the Crusades was founded 15 August 1934 to record and honor the menand 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 sixtyof his rebelling barons. After preliminary negotiations with Archbishop of Canterbury StephenLangton as go-between, John and his party met the barons on 15 June at Runnymede meadownext to the Thames River. After several days of discussions, the document language was finallyagreed upon, and on 19 June the barons elected 25 of their number as “Sureties” to hold titleto certain of the king’s properties, including the Tower of London, in order to guarantee hiscompliance with the laws and liberties expounded in the Magna Charta.
Thus began the long legal process of putting limits on kingly, and by extension, governmentalauthority, and of granting explicit rights to the ruled. From the time it was issued, the MagnaCharta became a symbol of freedom to the barons and the people, and kings in succeedingcenturies 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 othersingle 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 arbitraryactions against their persons or property by their sovereign. It has come to be recognized as thecornerstone of liberty and justice in the western world.
It is the well-spring of modern concepts of free speech, free association, the right to petitiongovernment for redress of grievances, the right to due process according the law of the land, topublic 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 theland.