Sunday, September 2, 2018

Five Ancestral Societies That You Probably Qualify For

This blog is ordinarily dedicated to my ancestors and how I found them. However, today we will be exploring a topic that for a genealogist can often be as intimidating as it is exciting: proving descent from an ancestor who qualifies you for membership into an ancestral society.

One of the most fun aspects of researching your family tree is learning which ancestral societies that you are eligible to join due to the brave deeds of your ancestors. Whether they fought in a war, helped to found a nation, or were special in some other regard, these groups seek to honor our ancestors and their actions, which helped to shape who we are today. Membership into these societies can sometimes be a daunting task, but the good news is that almost anyone whose ancestors have been here for a substantial length of time will, in all likelihood, qualify for at least one of these societies. 

1. Daughters of the American Revolution

Probably the most well-known ancestral society, the DAR is a strong force in serving our veterans and preserving the heritage of our communities. Each state has several local chapters, each with their own members and leadership. 

According to, "Any woman 18 years or older who can prove lineal, bloodline descent from an ancestor who aided in achieving American independence is eligible to join the DAR. She must provide documentation for each statement of birth, marriage and death, as well as of the Revolutionary War service of her Patriot ancestor."

Most people end up having multiple ancestors who served in some capacity during the Revolution, but sometimes proving lineage from each one can be tricky. I have over 20 ancestors who served, but so far I have only been able to prove one to the DAR's satisfaction. The good news is, your local chapter registrar will know all of the tips and tricks to help you with your application!

Please note that there is also a Sons of the American Revolution for our gentlemen revolutionary descendants!

To join the DAR, first seek out your local chapter here.

2. The Jamestowne Society

The Jamestowne Society is dedicated to finding the descendants of Jamestowne's original inhabitants. This society is available to both men and women, and is very active in preserving the early history of Virginia. 

Many people who can trace at least one line of their family back to Colonial Virginia will probably have at least one ancestor who qualifies for membership in the Jamestowne Society. People who are from Virginia or the surrounding states will, in all likelihood, have several qualifying ancestors. 

According to, an ancestor will qualify you for membership in to the society if he or she:

(1) was a stockholder in the London Company or the Virginia Company, or a member of one of the guilds which invested in the above, during the active investment period;
(2) owned land on Jamestown Island or lived on the Island prior to 1700 (owning land in a neighboring area or neighboring county does NOT of itself qualify an individual);
(3) was a resident in Virginia at the time of the 1624/25 Muster or earlier; 
(4) served as Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Attorney General, Clerk of the General Court, Member of the Council or House of Burgesses prior to 1700; these persons shall be conclusively presumed to have had their domiciles on Jamestown Island during their terms of office;
(5) was an Anglican Church (Church of England) minister in Virginia prior to 1700; or
(6) served as an official Indian Interpreter in Virginia prior to 1700.  

To inquire for membership in the Jamestowne Society, click here.

3. The Mayflower Society

The Mayflower Society is dedicated to finding the descendants of the 102 passengers who first sailed to Plymouth aboard the Mayflower. Both men and women are eligible to join. It is estimated that 35 MILLION people are descendants of these 102 passengers, which is a very impressive number considering that nearly half of the Mayflower's passengers did not survive their first winter in the New World. If you can trace a line of your family back to Colonial Connecticut, there is a reasonably good probability that you are a Mayflower Descendant.

The Mayflower Society is active in preserving family histories, especially those of New England Families. Like the DAR, many states have their own local chapters, which hold regular meetings. 

To find more information about how to join the Mayflower society, click here.

4. The Associated Daughters of Early American Witches

Perhaps the most recent of the major ancestral societies (founded in 1987), the Associated Daughters of Early American Witches is dedicated to finding the female descendants of all people accused of witchcraft in the American colonies prior to 1700. The most famous subset of this group is, of course, the 200 people who were accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trails of 1692-1693. Of these 200 people, 20 were executed. 

However, far more people were accused of witchcraft in the colonies than just these 200 unfortunate souls, both before and after the events at Salem. The ADEAW is currently aware of 302 accused witches, and recognizes that there are, in all probability, dozens if not hundreds more. If you can trace any of your lines back to New England, and particularly to Salem, there is a good chance that you are descended from an accused witch. 

To find more information about how you can join the Associated Daughters of Early American Witches, click here.

5. The Baronial Order of Magna Charta

The Baronial Order of Magna Charta is a society that the vast majority of people who can trace a line of their family back to England will be eligible to join. According to, "Applicants for membership as a Baron or Baroness shall be those ladies and gentleman who can prove  lineal descent from one or more the twenty-four Barons, and the Lord Mayor of London, who were selected in 1215 to be Sureties for the proper observance of the statutes of constitutional liberty known as Magna Charta, from John, King of England."

Because these ancestors lived more than 800 years ago, The BOMC has compiled a list of gateway ancestors, most of whom lived in Colonial America, that are already proven to have descended from one of the 24 Barons and the Lord Mayor. If you can prove descent from one of these gateway ancestors, you do not need to provide proofs for the remaining generations (which will save you about 400 years worth of research, since many of these ancestors lived in the 1600s). Please note that these gateway ancestors are not the ONLY lines that are accepted, but are merely provided to assist you.

Most people who can trace a line of their family back to Colonial America will qualify for this society, and almost anyone who can trace their lineage back to a noble family in England will qualify. A great many early colonists were second-sons and daughters (i.e., whose who did not inherit the lands and titles) of noblemen, who came to the New World for greater economic opportunity. As such, a great many people who can trace their lineage to early Colonial America are therefor descended from these noble families.

To inquire for membership to the BOMC, click here.


For my quick-start guide regarding how to begin research on your own family tree, please see this post.

To ask for my help with getting started on your tree, brick wills, or for any other inquiries, please feel free to contact me at


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