FREEDOM OF THE CITY
We encourage members to take the Freedom of the City of London.
Once we become a full Livery Company, only those members who have gained the Freedom of the City will be entitled to become ‘Liverymen’, with all the rights and privileges this infers including, for example, the right to stand for election and vote for the Lord Mayor and other elected officers of the City of London. (Other members will simply stay as Freemen).
The Freedom of the City of London is ancient; indeed it is believed that the very first Freedom was presented as far back as 1237. A 'freeman' could refer to someone who did not 'belong' to a feudal lord, and bestowed a number of privileges such as the right to earn money and own land. Town Dwellers who were protected by the charter of their town or city were often "free" - hence the term 'freedom' of the City.
The Freedom enabled members of a Guild or Livery to carry out their trade or craft in the Square Mile. A fee or fine would be charged and in return the Livery Companies would train apprentices in the craft and be responsible for ensuring that the goods and services provided were of the required standard. In 1835, the Freedom was widened to incorporate not just members of Livery Companies but also people living or working in the City or those with a strong London connection. By tradition it is said that the Freedom confers other privileges, the most well-known of which is the right to drive sheep over London Bridge.
Today it remains as a unique part of London's history to which many people who have lived or worked in the City have been proud to be admitted. The Freedom in the City today is still closely associated with membership of the City Livery Companies. More information is available at:
There are several ways to apply for the Freedom, but the easiest is to apply via the Company.
Applicants will receive a letter from the Clerk of the Chamberlain's Court inviting them to make an appointment for their freedom admission ceremony, following approval by the Court of Aldermen.
Each Freedom ceremony is carried out individually in the Chamberlain's Court Room, Guildhall. Friends and family are most welcome to attend the ceremony and you will be following in the footsteps of all City Livery members as well as Honorary Freemen such as Winston Churchill, Rudyard Kipling, Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela, alongside Freemen by Special Nomination including Damian Lewis, Dame Judi Dench and Morgan Freeman. At the ceremony, you will be presented with a beautiful framed certificate.