Freedom of the City of London
Abbreviated from a transcript obtained from the Corporation of London,
Records Office Guildhall, London signed by the Deputy Keeper of the Records
Details kindly provided by Jane Markotsis
For centuries the privileges of the Freedom
were sought by those who wished to prosper in the City. The freedom was essential to every
man who desired to exercise a trade or handicraft within the City. Among the privileges
were immunity from toll at markets and fairs throughout England, freedom from impressment
into the armed forces, and the right to vote at ward and parliamentary elections.
Methods of Becoming Free
Note: No one was or is admitted to the Freedom under the age of 21 years.
Until 1835 all freemen were admitted through membership of one of the City Companies (as trade and craft guilds were known).
(a) Patrimony, admission of a child of a freeman of the city born in lawful wedlock after the date of his or her father's admission. (Since 1976 the child of a woman who is free may be admitted under the same conditions).
(b) Servitude, admission by reason of having completed a term of years as apprentice to a freeman of the City.
(c) Redemption (purchase)
Honoris Causa - Honorary Freedom is the highest honour the City can bestow. It is granted rarely and only by Resolution of the Court of Common Council.
Distinguished recipients have included:
Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Edward Jenner, Sir Rowland Hill, Lord Baden Powell, and Sir Winston Churchill. On a very few occasions a body of persons have been declared eligible for admission to the Freedom without fee by resolution of the Court of Common Council. This was so in the case of persons volunteering for service in South Africa with the City Imperial Volunteers (resolution 20 December, 1899) and of City Fire Guard Commanders after the blitz of the last war (resolution 12 July, 1945).
In the covering letter Mr James R Sewell MA, FSA, also mentions Guiseppe Garabaldi and James Brooke, Rajah of Sarawak as being admitted to the Freedom Honoris Causa.