Hereditary members of the Society of the Cincinnati are qualified male descendants of commissioned officers who served in the Continental Army or Navy and their French counterparts. Most American hereditary members belong to the Constituent Society of which their ancestors were members or the Constituent Society in the state in which their ancestors' military units were organized.
The Institution of the Society of the Cincinnati, adopted in 1783, specified that admission was open to commissioned officers in the Continental and French service who had served to the end of the war, who had resigned with honor after a minimum of three years' service as a commissioned officer, and the sons of those who died in service. It also provided for the admission of commissioned officers who had been involuntarily separated from the army in a reorganization involving the merging of two or more units, known then as Derangement.
Eldest Qualified Male Descendent
In today’s Society, each commissioned officer is represented by a single male descendent of good moral standing, who remains a Hereditary Member for life, with the right of succession in that family line until extinguished.
For those lines of descent that are not currently represented, the State Society of the Cincinnati of Pennsylvania will consider application by the best qualified male descendent of good moral standing, as follows:
- Following the principles of primogeniture, the Society will give preference for membership to the line of the eldest male descendent.
- In those cases where the eldest male line has been extinguished, descent through a collateral male or female line will be considered.
- In cases where no living descendent remains, membership can be offered to descendents of a sibling of the commissioned officer.
If you are interested in applying, please review our Genealogical Requirements.