The Royal Charter
This charter arguably saved the Society from extinction in the mid-eighteenth century. Before this time, the Society existed without a permanent meeting-place with inconsistent attendance. Membership was small and became more socially exclusive and, whilst a few noblemen such as Lord Coleraine were active members, the Society lacked the kind of aristocratic or royal patronage to subsidise or fund any activities. The threat of disbandment was very real, until a bequest of drawings and engravings from Lord Coleraine in 1749 prompted an important change. As it was not incorporated, the Society could not legally hold property, deeming this and any future bequests invalid. To overcome this, a charter of incorporation was obtained. Incorporation created a sense of public responsibility amongst new Fellowship, and the Society was seen to be taking its national role more seriously, establishing its position to where it stands today.