Freedom of the City of London

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The Freedom of the City of London started around 1237 as the status of a 'free man' or 'citizen', protected by the charter of the City of London and not under the jurisdiction of a feudal lord.[1] In the Middle Ages, this developed into a freedom or right to trade, becoming closely linked to the medieval guilds, the livery companies. In 1835 eligibility for the freedom of the City was extended to anyone who lived in, worked in or had a strong connection to the City. The freedom that citizens enjoy has long associations with privileges in the governance of the City.[1]

Whilst no longer carrying many substantive rights and largely existing as a tradition, the freedom is a pre-requisite for standing for election to the Common Council[2] and Court of Aldermen[3] of the City of London. The Lord Mayor of the City must first become an alderman, and hence must also be a freeman.

There are multiple routes to gaining the freedom of the City of London.[4]

The original three routes to the freedom, via the livery companies, still exist. An individual can become a freeman of a livery company by servitude (apprenticeship), patrimony (either parent being a member of that livery company), or redemption (general admission, the criteria varying by livery company). Once a freeman of a livery company, an application can be made to the Chamberlain's Court for admission as a freeman of the City, which requires approval from Common Council.[4] It is necessary to become a freeman of the City to advance to the livery company status of 'liveryman', or to hold an office in a livery company. Liverymen have electoral rights in the City of London in voting for certain offices.

It is also possible to become a freeman of the City by nomination by two common councillors, aldermen or liverymen.

Similarly, due to freedom being a pre-requisite for standing for elected office in the City, it is possible for a prospective candidate to obtain freedom by nomination by any two electors.[1]

There is a long-standing tradition of the City admitting women to the freedom. Although they are now usually called freemen as well, historically the term was free sisters.[citation needed]

Freemen are admitted by the Clerk of the Chamberlain's Court during a ceremony at Guildhall.

Honorary Freedom[edit]

Honorary Freedom of the City of London is a recognition of lifetime achievement or high international standing, and is much rarer than the broader freedom of the city.

The granting of the Honorary Freedom of the City of London (or Freedom Honoris Causa) is extremely rare and generally awarded today only to royalty, heads of state, or figures of genuine global standing. It is the greatest honour that is in the power of the City of London to bestow, and usually takes place in Guildhall in the presence of the Common Council and the lord mayor, sheriffs, and aldermen, along with invited guests.

For example, in 2013 after a gap of some eleven years, Archbishop Desmond Tutu received the Honorary Freedom of the City of London with the ceremony taking place at Mansion House. In 1996 Nelson Mandela, as President of South Africa, received the same honour. The presentation on such occasions is made by the Chamberlain of the City of London and is often followed by a banquet at Guildhall or Mansion House. Historically, the first personage to be so honoured was William Pitt the Elder in 1757. However, there are also records of the presentation of such in May 1698 to Philemon Philip Carter, son of Nathaniel Carter (goldsmiths) in the "Freedom of the City Admission Papers" 1681–1930. For many years it was the custom to present the Freedom in specially commissioned and unique gold or silver caskets, the design of which was inspired by the background and the achievements of the individual to which it was presented. More normal today would be to present the honour in the form of a scroll in an inscribed box.[citation needed]

A small number of sheep are herded across Southwark Bridge by the Lord Mayor and Yorkshire Shepherdess among others who are members of the Honourary Company of Woolmen, bestowed with freedom of the city, London 2021.

List of Freemen[edit]

The mixed list below contains just some of the names of people who have received the Freedom or Honorary Freedom over the years. Dates of awards are shown in brackets.

Royal Family members[edit]

Prime ministers of the United Kingdom[edit]

Victoria Cross and George Cross recipients[edit]

Foreign royalty[edit]

Presidents of the United States of America[edit]

International leaders[edit]

Entrepreneurs and academics[edit]

Archbishops of Canterbury, York and London[edit]

Religious leaders[edit]

Diplomats[edit]

Entertainment and the arts[edit]

Historically notable Britons[edit]

Other notable recipients[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Qualification for Common Council" (PDF). City of London.
  3. ^ "Alderman Qualification Guidance" (PDF). City of London.
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  6. ^ Freedom Of London For The Princess (1947), archived from the original on 15 December 2021, retrieved 24 January 2020
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  9. ^ City Freedom For Queen Mother (1953), archived from the original on 15 December 2021, retrieved 24 January 2020
  10. ^ Prince Charles Freedom – In Colour – 1971, archived from the original on 15 December 2021, retrieved 24 January 2020
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  32. ^ "London Honors Gen. Smuts" (PDF). The New York Times. 2 May 1917. Retrieved 24 November 2007.
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  48. ^ See also: Report on Salvation Army website[permanent dead link]
  49. ^ a b "Salvation Army Leaders Receive Freedom of the City of London" (Press release). The Salvation Army. 13 September 2007. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2007.
  50. ^ "Archbishop of Westminster receives the Freedom of the City of London".
  51. ^ "Cardinal Martino Freedom of the City of London". Independent Catholic News. 6 May 2013. Archived from the original on 24 August 2013.
  52. ^ Lonergan, Aidan. "Outgoing Irish Ambassador Dan Mulhall granted Freedom of the City of London". The Irish Post. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  53. ^ "Arkady Rzegocki" – via Twitter.
  54. ^ City of London. "H.E. Lubomir Rehak, The Ambassador of Slovakia Hampstead, London" (PDF). List of Applications for the Freedom. 9.
  55. ^ "John Kerry receives Freedom of the City of London". The City of London. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
  56. ^ Pimlott Baker, Anne (2004). "Audrey Russell". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/40697. Retrieved 26 July 2014. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  57. ^ "Pavarotti receives freedom of the City of London" (Press release). British Red Cross. Retrieved 14 November 2007.
  58. ^ "Freedom of the City". WebCite. City of London. Archived from the original on 6 August 2013. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  59. ^ "Granted the Freedom of the City of London". City of London. Archived from the original on 29 January 2012. Retrieved 25 September 2022.
  60. ^ Rowling, J. K. "J.K. Rowling". TM Warner Bros and J.K. Rowling. Archived from the original on 30 December 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  61. ^ "Sir Michael Caine given Freedom of City of London". Evening Standard. London. 8 March 2013. Archived from the original on 11 March 2013.
  62. ^ Wooden Pegg (8 March 2013), Sir Michael Caine Given City of London Freedom, archived from the original on 15 December 2021, retrieved 16 July 2019
  63. ^ "Damian Lewis freedom of the City of London". BBC News. 20 March 2013. Archived from the original on 14 December 2013.
  64. ^ Vincent, Alice (16 April 2013). "Opera singer Placido Domingo to receive freedom of the City of London". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013.
  65. ^ Tolhurst, Alain (16 September 2013). "Geldof given freedom of City of London for charity work and contribution to music". London24. Archived from the original on 15 October 2013. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  66. ^ "Happy Days! Henry Winkler gets Freedom of the City of London". itv. 9 January 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
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  69. ^ "Q&A session with actor Eddie Redmayne at the Guildhall". City of London School for Girls. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
  70. ^ Glenday, Craig. "Sondheim receives Freedom of the City of London". The Stephen Sondheim Society. The Stephen Sondheim Society. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
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  72. ^ "Arif Anis became Freeman of the City of London". Lily Ford. Independent.co.uk. 14 April 2022.
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  98. ^ Mohammed, Syma (9 April 2013). "Polar explorer from Hackney awarded freedom of the city of London for voluntary work". Hackney Gazette. Archived from the original on 26 October 2020. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
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  100. ^ "Agenda item – List of applicants for the Freedom of the City". democracy.cityoflondon.gov.uk. 10 September 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
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  102. ^ "UAE residents win Freedom of the City of London". 15 August 2016.
  103. ^ www.academiasanctiambrosii.it. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help); Missing or empty |url= (help)
  104. ^ @spectaclemakers (15 January 2021). "Delighted to welcome our first new Freeman of 2021, Professor @AdamOckelford, Professor of Music @RoehamptonUni & co-founder of @theambertrust. His research shows the positive effects of #Music #Education on children with #VisionImpairment and special educational needs" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  105. ^ "GB News' Tom Harwood reacts to receiving Freedom of the City of London". theglobalherald.com. 14 February 2022. Retrieved 14 February 2022.
  106. ^ "Lionesses and Sarina Wiegman given Freedom of the City of London after Euros win". ITV News. 1 August 2022. Retrieved 1 August 2022.
  107. ^ "Harry Kane set to receive Freedom of the City of London". cityoflondon.gov.uk. 3 November 2022. Retrieved 3 November 2022.
John Scott England Freedom of the City Admission Papers

Further reading[edit]

  • London's Roll of Fame: Being Complimentary Notes and Addresses from the City of London, on Presentation of the Honorary Freedom of that City, and on Other Occasions, to Royal Personages, Statesmen... A.D. 1757-1884 etc. (The City of London Corporation, Cassell & Co., 1884). Benjamin Scott (ed.)
  • London's Roll of Fame: Being Presentations of the Freedom of the City and Addresses of Welcome from the Corporation of London to Royal and other Distinguished Personages, A.D. 1885-1959. (The City of London Corporation, 1959).
  • Valerie Hope, Clive Birch & Gilbert Torry, The Freedom: the Past and Present of the Livery, Guilds and City of London. (Barracuda Books, 1982).
  • Caroline Arnold, Sheep over London Bridge: Freedom of the City of London. (Corporation of London Records Office, 1996).
  • Some Rules for the Conduct of Life, to which are added a few cautions: For the use of such Freemen of London as take Apprentices. (Chamberlain's Court, Guildhall, London).
  • Addresses presented from the Court of Common Council to the King, on his Majesty's accession to the Throne, and on Various other Occasions, and his answers; Resolutions of the Court, Granting the Freedom of the City to several Noble Personages, with their answers; Instructions at different times to the Representatives of the City in Parliament; Petitions to Parliament for different purposes; Resolutions of the Court, on the Memorial of the Livery, to request the Lord Mayor to call a Common Hall; for returning thanks to Lord Chatham, and his answer; for erecting a Statue in Guildhall, to William Beckford, Esq; late Lord Mayor, agreed to between the 23rd October, 1760, and the 12th October 1770. (printed by Henry Fenwick, printer to the Honourable City of London).
  • Addresses, Remonstrances, and Petitions; commencing the 24th of June, 1769, presented to the King and Parliament, from the Court of Common Council, and the Livery in Common Hall assembled, with his Majesty's answers; likewise the speech to the King, made by the late Mr. Alderman Beckford, when Lord Mayor of the City of London. (printed by Henry Fenwick, London).
  • A Petition of the Freeholders of the County of Middlesex, presented to His Majesty, the 24th of May, 1769, by Mr. Serjeant Glynn, John Sawbridge, Esq; James Townsend, Esq; the Rev. Dr. Wilson, George Bellas, Esq; Francis Ayscough, Esq; and William Ellis, Esq. (printed by Henry Fenwick, London).