Freedom of the City

On 5th March 2013 MissB  attended the Chamberlain's Court at the Guildhall and was sworn in as a Freeman of the City of London.

New freemen are enrolled in a ceremony in Guildhall, when they receive a guide to conducting their lives in an honourable fashion and an impressive sealed certificate.

There are a number of rights traditionally but apocryphally associated with freemen—the right to drive sheep and cattle over London Bridge; to a silken rope, if hanged; to carry a naked sword in public; or that if the City of London Police finds a freemandrunk and incapable, they will bundle him or her into a taxi and send them home rather than throw them into a cell. While sheep have occasionally been driven over London Bridge on special occasions, the rest of these "privileges" are now effectively symbolic.

Freedom of the City

One of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies still in existence today is the granting of the Freedom of the City of London. It is believed that the first Freedom was presented in 1237.

The medieval term 'freeman' meant someone who was not the property of a feudal lord, but enjoyed 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'. (NB: Patrimony, Redemption & Servitude)

The freedom of the City is closely associated with membership of the City livery companies, successors to the ancient guilds.

Modern Freedom

Today most of the practical reasons for obtaining the Freedom of the City have disappeared. It nevertheless 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. Prior to 1996, the Freedom was only open to British or Commonwealth Citizens over 21 years of age and of good character. Now however, it has been extended globally, and persons of any nationality may be admitted either through nomination or by being presented by a Livery Company. There is a long standing tradition of admitting women, who used to be called 'free sisters'.
The City of London is keen to maintain the Freedom as a living tradition. The Freedom is open to all who are genuinely interested and invited or born to it. The City Freemen are a very broad cross-section of the population.
The City may invite individuals who have made a significant impact in their field of work or in the City to take up the Freedom to acknowledge their personal contribution and the Honorary Freedom is occasionally awarded to world leaders and other internationally prominent individuals in recognition of their achievements

The Honorary Freedom

Honorary Freedom is the highest honour the City of London can bestow. Honorary freemen do not apply for but are invited by the Court of Common Council to take the Freedom. The presentation ceremony usually takes place in the Great Hall of the Guildhall before the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, Common Councilmen and invited guests.
The presentation on these occasions is made by the Chamberlain of London, and is usually followed by a Guildhall or Mansion House banquet.
Famous Honorary freemen include The Queen, Princess Diana, Nelson Mandela, Florence Nightingale, General Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

You can read the Declaration of a Freeman below.

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