The Duty of a Freeman

The Duty of a Freeman

It is the duty of all Freemen to uphold their oath of admission.

It is beholden on all Freemen to understand the basic principles and background of their freedom.

It is the responsibility of every Freeman to understand their function and role.

It is particularly necessary that all Gild/Guild Officers, Wardens or Representatives fully understand their position, purpose and responsibilities.

What does this mean?

What is a borough freeman, who were the free burgesses, what was the Guild Merchant?

What is a Court Leet, who were the bailiffs, stewards and officers of a civic Corporation?

Background knowledge (History)

Custom and Charters, Court Leet and Court Baron, Justice in Eyre, Court of Common Pleas.

Tithings Hides and Hundreds. Hundred Sittings and the County Court.

Boot hall, Moot hall, Guild hall, Town hall and Shire hall.

Danish invasion and the Danelaw, Norman Feudal Law, Magna Carta, Church Reform and Dissolution and the English Civil War. Civic Reform under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835.


Freedom was a status, giving privileges and immunities in the past, to a person admitted by birth, apprenticeship, gift or purchase. Prior to the 1835 Act, it was a highly valued status within a borough town or city. Admissions by gift or purchase were banned by the 1835 Act, affecting all boroughs with the exception of the City of London.

Freemen Today

Freemen have a patriotic and civic pride in the connection with their home borough town or city. Their status today is simply ceremonial. Honorary Freedom, as opposed to that of hereditary freedom, is a symbolic award of recognition for local achievement given by majority decision of a borough Council.

The Freemen are rightly proud of their exclusive heritage of  borough/Guild Freedom. They enjoy giving service to their town. With Guild investments in local charities and support in ceremonial events and other civic occasions. Freemen share in the management of Town Lands and with properties such as the Guild Hall etc. There is camaraderie among all freemen and fraternal links with other towns and their guilds.

Young and old there is an important dynamic future in the retention of this ancient customary institution.                                 

Alan Shelley, Vice President, Freemen of England & Wales

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