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Maidstone Freemen Index

1598 - 1842

An index of persons granted freedom of the Borough of Maidstone, Kent.

Introduction

Freemen had certain advantages in the town. They had the right to vote for the town's two Members of Parliament. The 1832 Reform Act gave the vote to all men who occupied property in the town worth £10. Freemen retained their votes for life provided they lived within 7 miles of the town. In 1835 the Municipal Corporations Act reduced the size of the corporation (council) and these were to be elected by all male ratepayers. Source: "The History of Maidstone" by Peter Clark and Lyn Murfin.

Persons usually gained their freedom in one of three ways: apprenticeship to a freeman, because their father was a freeman, or by purchasing their own freedom. Some of the entries come from calendars only and further information is not available. There were no freedoms given between 1742 and 1747 because of the loss of the towns charter of incorporation and borough status due to political disputes.

1. By apprenticeship: the index includes the surname and forename of the apprentice, the year freedom was granted, the surname, forename and occupation of their master who was himself a freeman. Usually, the name of the father of the apprentice can be obtained from the Apprenticeship Enrollment books (Md/Ra1/1-3) which cover 1692-1812. In addition the information listed in the full index is repeated a separate masters index. This is useful for identifying all the apprentices of a particular master except his own sons.

2. By patrimony: the index includes the surname and forename of the son, the year freedom was granted, the name and occupation of their father who was himself a freeman. If it is stated in the record that someone was apprenticed to their father, this is stated in this full index. They are not included in the masters index.

3. By purchase: the index includes the surname, forename and occupation of the purchaser and the year freedom was granted. Usually this cost 15. Freedom by purchase ended in 1771.

4. Not available: Some persons were listed in the indexes to the freedom lists but further information was not recorded. The index gives surname, forename and the year freedom was granted. There are separate books of Apprenticeship Enrollment (Md/Ra/1-3) which would give further information on any who were apprenticed from 1692. All entries prior to 1694 are of this type.

Source

  1. Freemen Book 1598-1734 (Md/RF1/1)
  2. Freemen Book 1734-1787 (Md/RF1/2)
  3. Freemen Book 1788-1842 (Md/RF1/3)
LDS Film #1656613

Table showing number of entries of each type

 

Years

Apprenticeship

Patrimony

Purchase

NA

Honourary

Total

1598-1694

 

 

 

1758

 

1758

1694-1734

469

436

219

318

1

1443

1734-1787

364

695

227

35

3

1324

1788-1842

441

848

 

 

1

1290

Total

1274

1979

446

2111

5

5815

Note: Patrimony includes those apprenticed to their father.

An Example

At this Court also came Thomas Chaplain eldest son of Robert Chaplain late of this Town cordwainer deceased a Freeman of this Corporation and desired to be made free by his father's Copy according to the Custom and he is allowed the same and hath paid his Common Fine Sixpence and hath taken his Freemans Oath and the other Oaths and he is made free.
Example Freedom Record 1788

Principal Occupations found in the Index

Index of Freemen

Index of Masters


Return to Kent Genealogy

Maidstone Freemen Index Introduction
Created by Maureen Rawson