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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 to the Chamberlain of the City of London during a ceremony at Guildhall.

Honorary Freedom

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 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.
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

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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

Prime ministers of the United Kingdom

Victoria Cross and George Cross recipients

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (October 2020)

Foreign royalty

This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (August 2020)

Presidents of the United States of America

International leaders

Entrepreneurs and academics

Archbishops of Canterbury, York and London

Religious leaders

Diplomats

Entertainment and the arts

• Ed Sheeran

Historically notable Britons

Other notable recipients

  • Adam Ockelford[101]
  • See also

    References

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    3. ^ "Alderman Qualification Guidance" (PDF). City of London.
    4. ^ a b Jagger, Paul D. (2 December 2021). "The Honorary Freedom of the City of London – An exploration of The Lives of the Great and the Good". City and Livery. Every Freeman of the City of London may feel 'honoured' when they are admitted in that ancient ceremony in Guildhall, but the Corporation makes it clear in a leaflet handed to Freemen that while they may feel honoured, only the Honorary Freedom is of the form of an honour.
    5. ^ Lord Mountbatten Receives Freedom Of City Of London (1946), archived from the original on 15 December 2021, retrieved 24 January 2020
    6. ^ Freedom Of London For The Princess (1947), archived from the original on 15 December 2021, retrieved 24 January 2020
    7. ^ "Princess Elizabeth making a speech at Guildhall when she received the Freedom of the City of London, June 11, 1947". Royal Collection Trust. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
    8. ^ Duke Of Edinburgh Receives Freedom Of The City Of London (1948), archived from the original on 15 December 2021, retrieved 24 January 2020
    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
    11. ^ "- Freedom of London for Princess Anne". rct.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
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    13. ^ Princess Diana made Freeman of the City of London, archived from the original on 15 December 2021, retrieved 24 January 2020
    14. ^ "Churchill's Title Has Ancient Roots; Includes Right to Enter City Almhouses". The New York Times. 1 July 1943.
    15. ^ "City Honours Mr. Attlee (1953)". YouTube.
    16. ^ "City Honours Mr. Attlee".
    17. ^ Acceptance Speech
    18. ^ a b "Honors to Beaconsfield" (PDF). The New York Times. 4 August 1878. Retrieved 24 November 2007.
    19. ^ "Must win Ireland, says Lloyd George" (PDF). The New York Times. 28 April 1917. Retrieved 24 November 2007.
    20. ^ "Who you're saluting: Corporal Joshua Leakey, VC – Armed Forces Day". Retrieved 2 May 2019.
    21. ^ "Last Crown Prince of Austria receives the Freedom of the City of London" (Press release). City of London. 11 July 2007. Archived from the original on 8 December 2008. Retrieved 14 November 2007.
    22. ^ "The royal trip to the UK".[dead link]
    23. ^ "Freedom of London for Col. Roosevelt" (PDF). The New York Times. 4 March 1910. Retrieved 15 November 2007.
    24. ^ "Freedom of the City of London conferred on Mr. Roosevelt scene in the Guildhall". Library of Congress.
    25. ^ "Eisenhower to get honor". The New York Times. 10 June 1945.
    26. ^ Mitchell, Leslie (18 June 1945). "London Welcomes Newest Citizen – Eisenhower Receives Freedom of the City". British Movietone. Archived from the original on 15 December 2021. Retrieved 19 July 2021 – via YouTube.
    27. ^ "Gen. Grant at Guildhall" (PDF). The New York Times. 30 June 1877. Retrieved 16 November 2007.
    28. ^ "President Wilson's Speech at the Guildhall in London" (PDF). The New York Times. 29 December 1918. Retrieved 24 November 2007.
    29. ^ Acceptance Speech Archived 2007-11-09 at the Wayback Machine
    30. ^ "London's Freedom Given to Premier". The Toronto World. 30 July 1915. p. 5.
    31. ^ "London lionizing Botha" (PDF). The New York Times. 17 April 1907. Retrieved 24 November 2007.
    32. ^ "1948.9 | Freedom of the City of London | Casket | | McCord Museum".
    33. ^ "Prime Facts 23" (PDF). Museum of Australian Democracy. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
    34. ^ "Kohl to be given honorary freedom of the City of London". BBC News. 18 February 1998. Retrieved 14 November 2007.
    35. ^ migration (29 March 2014). "PM Lee's 'very good day' in London". The Straits Times. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
    36. ^ "Reply by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew to the Chamberlain's address at the presentation of the Honorary Freedom of the City, Guildhall, London, 15 JUL 82" (PDF). National Archives of Singapore. 15 July 1982. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
    37. ^ "Lester Pearson Honoured".
    38. ^ "London Honors Gen. Smuts" (PDF). The New York Times. 2 May 1917. Retrieved 24 November 2007.
    39. ^ "Governor of South Australia receives the Freedom of the City of London" (Press release). City of London. 24 June 2005. Archived from the original on 24 June 2007. Retrieved 14 November 2007.
    40. ^ London, England, Freedom of the City Admission Papers, 1681-1930
    41. ^ "World-famous shoe designer receives Freedom of the City of London" (Press release). City of London. 15 November 2006. Archived from the original on 24 June 2007. Retrieved 14 November 2007.
    42. ^ "The Freedom of the City". City of London. 3 March 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
    43. ^ "List of Applicants for the Freedom of the City of London". City of London. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
    44. ^ "London People: George Peabody". Retrieved 24 June 2016.
    45. ^ "The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Robert Runcie and his wife Rosalind".
    46. ^ "Cardinal Martino Freedom of the City of London". Independent Catholic News. 6 May 2013. Archived from the original on 24 August 2013.
    47. ^ "Archbishop of Westminster receives the Freedom of the City of London".
    48. ^ "London Honors Gen. Booth" (PDF). The New York Times. 27 October 1905. Retrieved 24 November 2007.
    49. ^ See also: Report on Salvation Army website[permanent dead link]
    50. ^ 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.
    51. ^ City of London. "H.E. Lubomir Rehak, The Ambassador of Slovakia Hampstead, London" (PDF). List of Applications for the Freedom. 9.
    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. ^ "John Kerry receives Freedom of the City of London". The City of London. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
    55. ^ "Sir Michael Caine given Freedom of City of London". Evening Standard. London. 8 March 2013. Archived from the original on 11 March 2013.
    56. ^ 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
    57. ^ 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.
    58. ^ "EELS on Instagram: "HONARY [sic] FREEMAN OF LONDON, SIR MARCUS OLIVER EVERETT. E can now legally bring his flock of sheep across London Bridge and if he commits a…"". Instagram. Archived from the original on 26 December 2021. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
    59. ^ "Arif Anis became Freeman of the City of London". Lily Ford. Independent.co.uk. 14 April 2022.
    60. ^ "Freedom of the City - About us - City of London". Archived from the original on 21 September 2015. Retrieved 13 January 2016.
    61. ^ 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.
    62. ^ "Damian Lewis freedom of the City of London". BBC News. 20 March 2013. Archived from the original on 14 December 2013.
    63. ^ "Ian McKellen given freedom of the City of London". BBC News. 30 October 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2016.
    64. ^ "Pavarotti receives freedom of the City of London" (Press release). British Red Cross. Retrieved 14 November 2007.
    65. ^ 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.
    66. ^ "Q&A session with actor Eddie Redmayne at the Guildhall". City of London School for Girls. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
    67. ^ 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.)
    68. ^ Glenday, Craig. "Sondheim receives Freedom of the City of London". The Stephen Sondheim Society. The Stephen Sondheim Society. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
    69. ^ "Freedom of the City". WebCite. City of London. Archived from the original on 6 August 2013. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
    70. ^ "Happy Days! Henry Winkler gets Freedom of the City of London". itv. 9 January 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2020.
    71. ^ a b "Haig and Beatty made freemen of the City of London". ITN Source. 16 June 1919.
    72. ^ "The Literary Gazette and Journal of the Belles Lettres, Arts, Sciences, &c: Saturday, October 23, 1847- Varieties". The Literary Gazette: A Weekly Journal of Literature, Science, and the Fine Arts. London: Henry Silverlock, Wardrobe Terrace, Doctors' Commons. 1847. p. 757. Retrieved 22 April 2022. The City of London, on the motion of Sir P. Laurie, has done itself honour by voting its Freedom in a gold box, to James Brooke, the rajah of Sarawak, and the regenerator of the Indian Archipelago
    73. ^ "Chamberlain gets Freedom of London". The New York Times. 26 March 1926.
    74. ^ "The Chief Justice in London" (PDF). The New York Times. 10 March 1876. Retrieved 24 November 2007.
    75. ^ "London Honors Earl Grey" (PDF). The New York Times. 24 January 1912. Retrieved 24 November 2007.
    76. ^ "London Honors Kitchener" (PDF). The New York Times. 5 November 1898. Retrieved 24 November 2007.
    77. ^ "Speech by Lord Milner" (PDF). The New York Times. 24 July 1901. Retrieved 24 November 2007.
    78. ^ "Coronavirus: Captain Tom Moore Freedom of the City of London". BBC News. 12 May 2020. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
    79. ^ "Scott family".[dead link]
    80. ^ Binfield, Clyde (1994). George Williams in context: A portrait of the Founder of the YMCA. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. p. 20.
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    85. ^ "Agenda item – List of applicants for the Freedom of the City". democracy.cityoflondon.gov.uk. 10 September 2015. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
    86. ^ "List of Applications for the Freedom" (PDF). democracy.cityoflondon.gov.uk. 10 September 2015.
    87. ^ "UAE residents win Freedom of the City of London". 15 August 2016.
    88. ^ Marsh, Steve. "Brian DEAR ... (1962 – 1969)". theyflysohigh.co.uk. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
    89. ^ Simpson, Colin. "Welcome | The Worshipful Company of Firefighters". firefighterscompany.org. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
    90. ^ Bonham, Martin (November 2010). "Members News" (PDF). Worshipful Company of Firefighters. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
    91. ^ "GB News' Tom Harwood reacts to receiving Freedom of the City of London". theglobalherald.com. 14 February 2022. Retrieved 14 February 2022.
    92. ^ "Leading Finnish cultural figure Freedom of the City" (Press release). City of London. 21 September 2007. Retrieved 14 November 2007.[dead link]
    93. ^ Krieger, Candice (20 December 2007). "Ari Norman designs the ultimate family Chanucah gift". The Jewish Chronicle. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
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    95. ^ Jonathan Andrews (7 November 1997). The History of Bethlem. Routledge. p. 504. ISBN 978-0-415-01773-2. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
    96. ^ "The English Democrats". voteenglish.org. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
    97. ^ "London 2012 athlete David Weir given City of London freedom". BBC News. 3 December 2012.
    98. ^ "The city and Sir James Willcocks". The Times. No. 36505. London. 12 July 1901. p. 11.
    99. ^ "Lord Provost of Glasgow to receive Freedom of City of London" (Press release). City of London. 5 September 2007. Archived from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2007.
    100. ^ 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.
    101. ^ @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.
    John Scott England Freedom of the City Admission Papers
    John Scott England Freedom of the City Admission Papers

    Further reading