Livery Companies of London




The freedom of the City is not an honour or award.

The freedom today confers no special privileges.

Any British or British Commonwealth citizen - man or woman - of good character, over the age of 21 may apply for the freedom

The freedom of the City relates back to the medieval term 'freeman', meaning someone who was not the property of a feudal lord and who 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 'freedom of the city'.

To find out about applying for the freedom of the City, phone the Chamberlain's Court on 0171 332 3055.

The Freedom of The City

The Freedom of the City of London has always been a much sought-after privilege, the attainment of which was at one time essential to anyone who wished to trade or exercise his craft within the City's bounds. As long ago as 1275 Andrew Horn, a City Chamberlain, wrote,

"it should be known that there are three methods by which a man acquires the Freedom of the City; first that he be a man born in the City lawfully from his father, secondly, that he be an apprentice with a freeman for seven years and not less, and thirdly that a man may compound the Chamberlain for his freedom before the Mayor and other Aldermen."

These three methods, known respectively as Patrimony, Apprenticeship and Redemption, still apply today though from the fourteenth century until 1835 it was also necessary for any would- be freeman of the City to become first a freeman of a guild in addition to satisfying one of the aforementioned requirements. Now this is only necessary in certain special cases.

The Declaration of a Freeman
"I do solemnly swear that I will be good and true to our Sovereign Lady Queen Elizabeth the Second; that I will be obedient to the Mayor of this City; that I will maintain the Franchises and Customs thereof, and will keep this City harmless, in that which is in me; that I will also keep the Queen's Peace in my own person; that I will know no Gatherings nor Conspiracies made against the Queen's Peace, but I will warn the Mayor thereof, or hinder it to my power; and that all these points and articles I will well and truly keep, according to the Laws and Customs of this City, to my power."

According to the custom of London, children, born after their fathers' admissions to the freedom, are entitled, on reaching the age of twenty-one years, to be admitted by patrimony.

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