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Magna Carta Project October 2020 Live Cast

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This page provides an overview of the Magna Carta Project, based on documents prepared for the 17 October 2020 Live Cast. We didn’t quite stay on script during the Live Cast, but we had a lot of fun. Sarah Callis was moderator with Traci and Liz (two of the four co-leaders) participating in the YouTube chat. If you watch the archived Live Cast, you’ll want to sign in and select “Live Chat replay”. Some of what is said here is now out-of-date.

NOTE: As of 8 August 2021, the Affiliate membership level was retired. Links have been disabled, but otherwise the text remains (since at the time of the Live Cast we did have two levels of membership available).


Magna Carta

The Magna Carta was an agreement made on 15 June 1215 between King John of England and a council of 25 rebellious barons that was created to ensure John complied with his agreement (the surety barons). The Magna Carta established limits on the authority of the king and is considered a foundation of English law. The ideals of Magna Carta were also prominent in the Americas, and are reflected in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.[1] Because of this, lots of people, particularly in the United States, are interested in checking if they are descended from a surety baron.

The Magna Carta Project was created in March 2014 to improve the profiles of the 25 surety barons and the 16 Illustrious Men who counseled King John. Before Magna Carta's 800th anniversary in June 2015, the Project expanded its scope to cover profiles on trails between the surety barons and the American colonial Gateway Ancestors who descended from them. The Project includes 240 Gateway Ancestors who immigrated to America before 1700 and are documented by Douglas Richardson in his books Magna Carta Ancestry and Royal Ancestry. Richardson's works were chosen to provide a single focal point for the major undertaking the Project had set for itself.

The Project's main goal is to have a badged trail to a surety baron for each of the 240 Gateway Ancestors listed in Magna Carta Ancestry. When we achieve that goal of one trail for each Gateway, anyone who can connect to any one of those Gateway Ancestors will have a Project-verified trail to follow all the way to a Magna Carta Surety Baron.

Many WikiTree members have made major contributions over the years, including quite a few who continue to be active, such as two of the founding members, April Dauenhauer and Darlene Athey-Hill. The current leadership team (October 2020) includes Michael Cayley, David Douglass, Liz Shiflett and Traci Thiessen.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Project's leadership team anytime! Read on for more information about the Project and how to join.

Recent Project Restructure

In June 2020 we restructured the Magna Carta Project to be team-based, creating five teams to better organize the Project.

The Membership Development Teamresponds to enquiries about joining and helps new members acclimatise to the Project (leaders David Douglass and Kathy Alvis Patterson).
Three of the five teams, collectively referred to as the "PPT Teams", oversee all work on the Project's profiles.
The Admin - Maintenance Team provides support for the other teams, working mostly behind the scenes to help the Project run smoothly (leader Liz Shifflett).

The Team structure has proven helpful not only in focusing Project work but also in better supporting new members and helping members work toward meeting Pre-1500 badge requirements.

Membership Development Team

The Membership Team, headed by David Douglass, is the first point of contact with the Magna Carta Project and is only open to experienced Project members. The Membership Team works to recruit and educate new members, answers questions, directs members to teams, and helps new badged members choose a Gateway Ancestor profile for which they will be a "Gateway Guardian" (see the "Magna Carta Project Glossary for Project-specific terms, such as Gateway Guardian).

How to Join

The first experience many new members have with Magna Carta genealogy is discovering through WikiTree’s Relationship Finder (RF) that they may have a connection to one or more of the Magna Carta surety barons (on the RF page, click "Relationship Quick Finder" & you'll find links to check for your relationship to the barons). From there it's natural curiosity and perhaps a bit of family pride that sparks a member's desire to search out more information about their noble ancestors. This often leads a member to consider membership in the Magna Carta Project. Project members can explore their own Magna Carta connections while helping the Project meet its goals.
Joining the Magna Carta Project is a relatively easy process but because the Project deals almost exclusively with Pre-1700 and Pre-1500 profiles, it is a prerequisite for the member to be Pre-1700 self-certified as the minimum. Members are encouraged but not required to obtain Pre-1500 certification when joining the Project. In addition, we have two levels of membership with different participation requirements: Badged and Affiliate membership.
Before joining, it's recommended that potential members review the participation requirements of both levels in order to determine which level best suits their goals and interest levels. Badged members have participation requirements and that level of membership is designed for those who may have an interest in advanced medieval genealogy and who want to contribute regularly in the Project's efforts of developing and improving Magna Carta profiles and trails. The Affiliate membership level doesn't have participation requirements; this level is designed to suit the needs of members who may be new to medieval genealogy or are primarily interested in researching their own personal Magna Carta connections.
Both Badged and Affiliate members are encouraged to join the Project's Google Group, which is tied to the project account (WikiTree-36), which serves as Profile Manager for Project-managed profiles, so Google Group members receive activity reports for Project-managed profiles, including merge proposals and e-mailed copies of comments posted to the profiles.
No matter which level you decide to join at, the Magna Carta Project welcomes your interest and participation in the Project. To join, visit the current Magna Carta Project G2G Welcome Post - here, as of 17 October 2020[2] - and leave a message (an answer, not a comment) stating your interest in joining at the Badged or Affiliate level. This G2G Welcome Post is monitored by the Membership Team.

PPT Teams

Pre- and Post-1500 Teams

All of our members, badged and affiliate, are encouraged to join either the Pre-1500 or Post-1500 Team and are welcome to join both. Obviously, pre-1500 certification is needed before joining the Pre-1500 Team. The Pre- and Post-1500 Teams improve profiles managed by the Project by reviewing and updating profiles against our very detailed checklist. To join a team, either post a comment on the team pages or contact Michael or Traci, who are the leaders of those teams.

Each Team has a spreadsheet (Post-1500 and Pre-1500) that lists all the Project-managed profiles that need some sort of attention - from complete overhauls to minor refreshes. Some of the profiles on these spreadsheets were recently added to the Project and have never been developed; other profiles haven't been worked on since they were first developed in 2014/2015 and need updating. Fortunately, the majority of the profiles only need a re-review against the checklist to ensure they meet current Project standards.

If a team member wants to work one of the profiles, they should sign up on the spreadsheet or notify a team leader. We ask that team members sign up to work on ONE profile at a time and that, before editing a profile, they post a comment saying the profile will be reviewed by the Project. The team member will then review and develop the profile against our checklist (it is long and might seem a bit overwhelming, but it spells out everything the Project needs to verify).

Trail Development Team

Like the Pre- and Post-1500 Teams, our Trail Development Team also improves profiles, but they have the added responsibility of verifying trails from surety barons to colonial Gateway Ancestors. There are usually 15-18 profiles in one Magna Carta trail and all of those profiles need to be reviewed by a member of this team. Pre-1500 certification is needed to join this Team as the majority of profiles in trails are from that era. The Trail Development Team is also led by Michael and Traci and is open to Pre- and Post-1500 Team members who have successfully developed six profiles against the Project's checklist. The main goal of the Project has always been to develop trails between surety barons and Gateway Ancestors, and this Team ensures those trails are up-to-date and are properly maintained. Occasionally, new research is found that "breaks" a trail and those cases need to be carefully documented on the profiles and alternate trails need to be researched.

The Trail Development Team makes sure each profile in a trail has been developed, reviewed and approved. The Team is also responsible for checking that each profile in a trail has an appropriate project box and that Project maintenance categories are added or removed. We have several project boxes, but most common are

The Magna Carta "badge":
Magna Carta Project logo
Magna Carta Surety Baron Descendant (see text).
Join: Magna Carta Project
Discuss: magna_carta
and the Trail Pending box:
Project Logo with "Pending" across it
Magna Carta Trail Pending
This profile is in a Magna Carta trail that is pending
development. See text for details.
Join: Magna Carta Project
Discuss: magna_carta

The primary rule of the Project is that we do not put our badge on a profile until a trail is complete and it meets our standards. Quality is vastly more important than quantity. That said, no profile will ever be 100% complete because primary source documents are continually being found and uploaded to the internet. Also, new discoveries are made regularly and we strive to keep up with any and all newly published data.

Another important task for the Trail Development Team is adding or updating the Magna Carta Project section located at the bottom of every profile on every trail. The Magna Carta Project section is always located under the profile's Acknowledgements heading. An example of one of our project sections can be viewed HERE.

The Magna Carta Project section of each profile provides important information about the trail, or trails, that the profile is on, as well as information about that particular profile. Some Magna Carta profiles are in multiple trails and are connected to multiple Gateways and multiple surety barons. The Magna Carta Project section provides the status of the profile and the trail(s), the "trail ends" (Gateway and surety baron), and links to Base Camp and the Project's glossary.

Ideally, all Magna Carta trails will be listed in full only one time, on the profile of each Gateway Ancestor, and not elsewhere in the trail. See an example of a "regular" trail HERE and a Gateway with several documented trails HERE. In some special circumstances, the full trail will be listed on the profile of the Gateway's parent. Although some Gateways have trails to many surety barons, we ask that when you choose a trail to work on, please pick one that hasn't been developed before you work on additional trails for your favorite Gateway Ancestor.

Admin - Maintenance Team

The Admin - Maintenance Team is headed by Liz Shifflett. The AM Team covers templates and categories, and focuses on other behind-the-scenes logistics, such as tracking down all the Project pages that were created over the years. The Magna Carta Project was among the earliest WikiTree projects and has gone through several "administrations", with each adding project pages. The AM Team's most visible contribution is publishing the monthly newsletter.


Project boxes: We have seven variations, based on the {{Magna Carta}} template (see details on Template:Magna_Carta). The Trail Development Team oversees the use of the project boxes (see Magna Carta Template Trail).


Most of the templates just mentioned add a project category:
Other categories of note:

Index - Magna Carta Project Index

Not long after the Project went with the team approach, the AM Team put together an Index of all our pages. The goal is to have it be comprehensive, complementing the super-useful Quick-Nav Index that David Douglass created at the beginning of 2019. (The "Big" index is maintained by the AM Team; the Quick-Nav Index is maintained primarily by co-leaders David and Michael Cayley.)
The Index includes “by namespace” sections, for example,


The AM Team is responsible for producing the monthly newsletter, which the Project has been publishing since April 2018, first just in the Google Group, then in G2G. The AM Team also maintains the Newsletter Archive, with links to the current and past newsletters (to see the Google Group ones, you’d need to be a member of the Google Group) and an index of articles that appeared in the newsletters posted to G2G. A popular feature is Michael Cayley's "Profile of the Month" - although because of G2G's space limitations, it does not run every month. (See this section of the Archive for links to the newsletters that did include a Profile of the Month.)
The October newsletter - the latest newsletter at the time of the Project's LiveCast (17 October 2020) - ran an article about Chase’s Ancestor Listmaker App, and Sarah Callis (the LiveCast moderator) and those in the chat had fun playing with it and the Relationship Finder to explore connections to Gateway Ancestors and Surety Barons.


Selected links (some included above, some not):
  1. For more information, see the Wikipedia articles on
  2. If that G2G post has closed, a link to the current Welcome Post can be found on the Project page, in the "How to Join" box.
  3. Project-monitored profiles are on the Project's watchlist but the Project is not a manager (trusted list only).

This is a legacy Magna Carta Project page. (Current at the time of the LiveCast, 17 October 2020.)
Created: Noland-165/Traci Thiessen, 22 October 2020.



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Categories: Magna Carta Project