Freemen of England and Wales

An association of Freemen and Guilds in England and Wales

Patron: The Right Honourable, The Earl Bathurst

Alan Shelley BA DLA FRSA VP 21 July 2022

Warden’s Memorandum (1/22)

As I reported to the Executive Trustees recently, our Association has been through a depressing period of disagreement, exacerbated by the restrictions caused by Covid. I believe that we can now close that chapter and begin to agree a few basic changes to our operations. Getting back to face-to-face discussions can surely resolve some of the misunderstandings.

Our last meeting was dominated by the proposal from the Shrewsbury Guild (presented by Alan Fallows). This can be removed from further consideration. I consider that this and other subjects, associated with those disagreements have reached an end and we should make every effort to progress forward. Freedom is a dynamic subject and while its history is long, it still bends under reasonable circumstances. Clearly some changes are necessary as we reconsider the future of FEW.

Now that some ‘blue sky’ is evident and as we move from restrictive bonds, I hope to get more involved in some training and measures (for members) toward a better understanding of our freedom and its various and interesting traditions.

At the last Court meeting we agreed, in principle, to an active Working Group which will highlight areas within FEW operations and where improvements can be made. It is likely that considerable changes will be recommended. Be assured that any such changes will not reduce, but enhance the forward membership of FEW. In the true spirit of democracy, any changes in future will be given full consideration by the Executive and the approval of the Court.

Further to our current activities. I believe foremost that we should, as a democratic organisation, embrace, as our title may suggest, – all Freemen of England and Wales who have a ‘genuine’ interest in our Society. This may comprise a variety of liberties including guilds/gilds, courts leet and other associate bodies. I quite understand that a range of differences occur between these groups, but measures can be taken to allow full identity and harmony to the satisfaction of a well-meaning ‘Association of Freemen’.

Adequate accommodation of the various interests is already under consideration by the presently limited ‘Working group’ and will be put before the Executive for discussion before approval in Court.

Aide Memoire

Current Duties of the Wardens

Duties are clearly stated in the FEW Handbook V1 pages 5 and 6.

Purpose of the Area Warden

  1. Ambassador – diplomat and friend
  2. Conduit to and from the Association
  3. Advisor of matters relating to
  4. Freedom and rights
  5. Principles of FEW
  6. Recruitment Agent – Guilds and Individuals
  7. Encourage camaraderie among guilds and with communications generally
  8. Personal study of both local and national societies
  9. Encourage formation and revival of Guilds and associates.

Subjects for further Study

The context of a freeman’s Oath

Principles and background to forms of rights and liberty

What is a borough freeman and who were the free burgesses?

What was the Guild Merchant as a body and what is a Corporate Borough?

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 Pied Powder, and 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 (Viking) invasion and the Danelaw, Norman Feudal Law.

Magna Carta, Church Reform and Dissolution and the English Civil War. Civic Reform and the Municipal Corporations Act 1835.

Freemen’s share of Town Lands, Guild Halls etc and their relations with the general public.

Details of the above can be viewed within my website

Selective information from Subject Categories on AS Website

  1. Albion – Brief early history of Britain
  2. Borough Freemen – broad background
  3. Burgage – the early free burgesses
  4. Ceremonial – symbolic representations
  5. Culture – examples of the above
  6. Custom – English & Welsh traditions
  7. Folkright – Traditional Law, Lore, and Freedom
  8. Freedom – Liberty and Tradition (A Discussion)
  9. Freemen of England & Wales – Association
  10. Gild Merchant – Incorporation
  11. Inheritance – Custom and Law
  12. Laws – Freedom, Commons, and the Law
  13. Property – Freemen’s Property Rights
  14. Recognition of Freemen
  15. Viewpoints re Freedom and Justice
  16. Uncategorised contains notes in general
  17. Other Subjects include examples of places, lands, and traditions.

Alan Shelley for FEW 21 July 2022

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