no image

Magna Carta Project Policy and Procedures

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: [unknown]
This page has been accessed 329 times.



From the Magna Carta project page:

"Magna Carta Ancestry and Royal Ancestry by Douglas Richardson are the foundational sources for the Magna Carta Project. Where there is a conflict regarding the facts on a profile, we follow Richardson, unless there is more recent published research[1] that adds to or corrects his work."
See "More about Richardson" (below).
The project's policy to use Richardson provides a scope that makes the project "doable" — developing WikiTree profiles in trails to a surety baron from the 240 Richardson-documented Gateway Ancestors listed in the front matter of Magna Carta Ancestry is an attainable goal. Daunting and time-consuming, but feasible.


Probably the most current and comprehensive project page for the Magna Carta project's Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) would be the recently revised Checklist. There are numerous project pages - many now outdated - that have been created by various project leaders since the project began in 2014.

Changes and Clarifications

This page provides details of changes and clarifications to policies and procedures implemented in July 2018 that were discussed in June 2018 in the project's Google Group and which will guide revisions to project pages in the coming months. Specifically, the following points are discussed:

Dissolution of subproject

With changes in WikiTree - specifically, restrictions on gedcom imports and restrictions on editing pre-1700 profiles (through pre-1700 and pre-1500 badges) - the need for the Questionable Gateway Ancestors subproject has diminished. Beginning 20 June 2018, the project started the process to delete the category "Questionable Gateway Ancestors" that had been created for immigrant ancestors not documented by Richardson, but which otherwise fall within the scope of the project and might be descended from surety barons. A notice was posted on the Category page and research previously posted on the category page was transferred to a free-space page: Magna Carta Project Notes on Immigrants.
If you have an immigrant ancestor you would like to see included in the project, you'll want to develop the WikiTree profiles from your immigrant ancestor to a Surety Baron, to include primary source citations for the parent/child relationships in the trail. Be prepared to be disappointed, however, as many trails are false and cannot be documented. Project pages, such as the Checklist, for developing and reviewing a trail, were created for profiles within the scope of the project but may still prove useful those working on trails not documented by Richardson. Another helpful resource is G2G - if you get stuck on something for a particular profile, you can post to G2G from that profile seeking assistance and/or guidance.
Many WikiTree members who are working on trails outside the project's scope are project Affiliates and members of the Google Group. This allows them to help the project keep an eye on project-managed and -monitored profiles and also participate in project discussions.

When to select "Confident"

Do not set a relationship status, or confidence level, unless the relationship can be confirmed by a primary or original source.
This is a change to previous project guidance, which was to select "Confident" for a parent/child relationship if that relationship was documented by Richardson. That guidance has changed to raise the project's standards in light of vast improvements to the quality of pre-1700 profiles throughout WikiTree.
WikiTree's options for relationship status are Non-Biological, Uncertain, Unknown, Confident, and Confirmed with DNA.[2] Project profiles in a Magna Carta trail will be either Unknown or Confident (the notable exception being Richard III and his mother, daughter of Ralph Neville, who is in a project-approved Magna Carta trail).[3]
There are no default settings for status indicators, so when a profile is created, the relationship status is left blank ("Unknown"). Once a status is selected, it cannot be "deselected". If no status has been selected, do not select Confident unless the profile cites a primary or original source.[4]
For additional information, see below and this section of WikiTree's "Disagreements about Certainty" Help Page.

Changing Relationships

Changing a relationship is considered a major change, which requires collaboration and communication according to WikiTree's guidelines:
The Magna Carta Project has additional guidelines, previously followed in general but without being clearly stated, with detailed procedures. The following sections provide specifics.

Changing parent/child relationship in a Magna Carta trail

Before changing a parent/child relationship in a Magna Carta trail from that given in Richardson's Royal Ancestry (often the same as in Magna Carta Ancestry, but the relationship should be checked in the latter work before proceeding), the project requires consensus and clear primary sources:
  • Consensus among researchers (SGM), Magna Carta Project members (the project's Google Group), and the profile managers and other relevant projects (G2G).
  • Primary sources that clearly show the parent/child relationship being proposed.
The need for "primary sources that clearly show" the relationship is the standard that was established by the Questionable Gateway Ancestors subproject to accept a parent/child relationship that was not documented by Richardson. That is the standard needed to change the relationship.
A "Disputed Parents" section should be added to the profile with sources, evidence, and reasoning for the different parents, whether or not the profiles attached as parents are changed or removed (see Relationship Status, Sources, and Badged Trails, below).

Changing parent/child relationship when the child is not in the trail

Generally, a child not included in Richardson would be detached (see tips, below), and the following addresses that process. If you wish to attach a child to a badged profile, you can proceed if the child is listed by Richardson. If not, first contact the project by posting to the badged profile your intent and reasoning.
The level of proof for detaching a child not on a trail is much less. Although collaboration and communication is still required, the project requires only that the profile managers and the Magna Carta project be consulted:
  • Post comments on the profiles for child & parents and allow at least 2 weeks for the profile managers to respond.
  • After discussion with profile managers (or after 2 weeks, if no response), post to the Magna Carta Project's Google Group the WikiTree IDs of child & parents and why you think the relationship should be changed detached and why.
If no objection, the child can be detached. If evidence or reasoning supporting the child is provided and the project accepts it, the child can remain attached with an explanation provided in the profile. Depending on the situation, the WikiTree IDs for profiles detached as a child can be included in the text or simply noted as a comment.

More about Richardson

Douglas Richardson's works include his sources, albeit not tied to the facts they are supporting. Still, this allows for additional research into those facts.

Some tips from Joe Cochoit, shared in the project's Google Group, who noted that "Richardson can actually be used as a learning tool for medieval genealogy", giving the following examples:
  • If he gives you a precise death date there is certainly an Inquisition Post mortem where the date was given.
  • If he says "died shortly before" I guarantee there is a Writ of Diem Clausit Extremum to be found in the fine rolls.
  • If he says "died after" there is usually a fine or charter where the person's name appears.

Joe also shared some insight about children listed (or not):
  • Richardson's policy and style is to in fact list EVERY known child of a couple. If they are not numbered below the biography, they will occur in the text. Certainly it is easy for him to miss children, especially when he is not tracing out their descendants. But if they are not given by Richardson, then he found no evidence of them in any of the sources he used.

Although Richardson's works contain some errors, and there may be competing theories in some cases that other researchers favor, his body of work, as Joe says, "is valuable because it is the most comprehensive, best researched, most accurate and most modern work of its kind. There is no replacement. Sure it contains the occasional error, but considering it is 3000 some pages of densely packed genealogical data with literally hundreds of thousands of individual facts, the error rate is very low. Richardson is ideal for the purposes of this project as his goals exactly align with ours."

Relationship Status, Sources, and Badged Trails

Reminder: DO NOT SELECT CONFIDENT unless...

Relationship Status: If no relationship status has been selected, do not select "Confident" unless the profile cites a primary or original source supporting that relationship.[4] (See more information about relationship status above). The relationship status of "Confident" can be selected initially when a primary or original source is cited, whether the source is a transcription or an image.
Sources: For more information about sources, see WikiTree's Sources Help Page, this section of the Uncertain Help Page, the project's Reliable Sources pageRecommended Sources, the Pre-1500 Resource Page, info on the project's Checklist, and Jillaine's Dream Source Help Page. The sources listed in the table (below) are defined as follows:
  • Unsourced = Includes online trees & FamilySearch Pedigrees. If an underlying source was given, that source should be added to the profile.
  • Authoritative Sources = Such as Complete Peerage. Wikipedia and Find A Grave themselves are not necessarily authoritative - note the source for a fact from Wikipedia or Find A Grave, and note in the source citation for a FindAGrave memorial whether or not it includes a tombstone image. (A 2019 WikiTree initiative is for pre-1700 projects to have a Reliable Sources page. See Category:Reliable Sources for Pre-1700 Profiles and the project's Reliable Sources page.
  • Richardson = Magna Carta Ancestry and Royal Ancestry (Plantagenet Ancestry is intentionally not listed; if the information is only found in Plantagenet Ancestry, the fact needs to be confirmed with another source). See more information on WikiTree's source pages for Magna Carta Ancestry and Royal Ancestry
  • Transcriptions of Primary Sources = No image.
  • Primary Sources = Image.
Badged Trail: For a trail to be approved and badged by the Magna Carta project, the Gateway Ancestor and each profile between that profile and the Surety Baron needs to be badged.[5] The table below shows when a profile can be badged.

Uncertain Unknown Confident Change Attached
Trail Parents[6]
Non-Trail Child[7]
Unsourced Research, or discuss/detach Research, or discuss/detach Add source, or change to Uncertain N/A[8] Discuss/Detach child[9]
Authoritative Discuss/change to Confident or add Research Notes Do not select a status Leave if already selected No[6] No[7]
Richardson Change to Confident BADGE
Do not select a status
Leave if already selected
Yes[10] No[11]
Transcriptions Change to Confident BADGE
Change to Confident
BADGE No[6] No[7]
Primary Change to Confident Change to Confident BADGE Yes, with Consensus No[7]

  1. The term “published research” is vague, but being more definitive in the absence of actual examples is not realistic. If you have a published reference updating Richardson’s Magna Carta Ancestry (2011) or Royal Ancestry (2013), please post it to G2G and/or the Magna Carta Google Group to obtain feedback concerning the reference before making changes. For the Magna Carta project, "published research" means any publicly available documentation that adds to or corrects any information in a Magna Carta profile or trail. Such research must be viewable and supported by verifiable primary or secondary evidence following standard genealogical methods of proof and be made available for project and profile management review and discussion in the Wikitree G2G forum prior to making significant profile changes or edits.
  2. See WikiTree's Relationship Status Help Page for details.
  3. See the "Confirmed with DNA" explanation for Richard III and Cecily of York here.
  4. 4.0 4.1 See examples of original sources here.
  5. If you're unfamiliar with the project's use of the term "badged", please see the Magna Carta Project's Glossary.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Trail Parents" means the parents given by Richardson. "No" means that the source is not sufficient to change the attached parents from those given by Richardson.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 "Non-Trail Child" means a child not listed by Richardson. "No" means the child may be left attached.
  8. A profile on a trail between a Gateway and a Surety cannot be Unsourced or Uncertain.
  9. Detach, but leave comment with WikiTree ID of child on parents' profile and parents' WikiTree IDs under Research Notes in child's profile.
  10. Parents attached in a Richardson-documented trail should be the parents shown by Richardson unless, as noted above, consensus on primary sources showing otherwise has reached.
  11. If a child listed by Richardson is disputed, follow the same procedure as that to change parents in a Richardson-documented trail, although a transcription of a primary source (instead of an image) can be cited.


Categories: Magna Carta Project