This article appears to contradict the article City of London#Governance .(June 2018)
The Freedom of the City (or borough in some parts of the UK) is an honour bestowed by a municipality upon a valued member of the community, or upon a visiting celebrity or dignitary. Arising from the medieval practice of granting respected citizens freedom from serfdom, the tradition still lives on in countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand – although today the title of "freeman" confers no special privileges. The Freedom of the City can also be granted by municipal authorities to military units which have earned the city's trust; in this context, it is sometimes called the Freedom of Entry. This allows them the freedom to parade through the city, and is an affirmation of the bond between the regiment and the citizenry.
The honour was sometimes accompanied by a "freedom box", a small gold box inscribed to record the occasion; these are not usual today. In some countries, such as the United States, esteemed residents and visitors may instead be presented with the Key to the City, a similarly symbolic honour. Other US cities award Honorary Citizenship with just a certificate.
Freedom of the City is an ancient honour granted to martial organisations, allowing them the privilege to march into the city "with drums beating, colours flying, and bayonets fixed".
This honour dates back to ancient Rome which regarded the "pomerium", the boundary of the city, as sacred. Promagistrates and generals were forbidden from entering it, and resigned their imperium immediately upon crossing it. An exception was made for victory celebrations (called triumphs), during which the victorious general would be permitted to enter for one day only. Under the Republic, soldiers also lost their status when entering, becoming citizens: thus soldiers at their general's triumph wore civilian dress. Weapons were also banned inside the pomerium for religious and traditional reasons. (The assassination of Julius Caesar occurred outside this boundary.)
Similar laws were passed by other European cities throughout the Medieval era, to protect public security and civic rights, even against their own king's troops. As a result, soldiers would be forced to camp outside the walls of the city during the winter months. The Freedom of the City was an honour granted only to troops which had earned the trust of the local populace, either through some valiant action or simply by being a familiar presence.
Today, martial freedom of the city is an entirely ceremonial honour, usually bestowed upon a unit with historic ties to the area, as a token of appreciation for their long and dedicated service. The awarding of the Freedom is often accompanied by a celebratory parade through the city.
A slightly more common freedom of the city is connected to the medieval concept of "free status", when city and town charters drew a distinction between freemen and vassals of a feudal lord. As such, freemen actually pre-date 'boroughs'. Early freedom of the boroughs ceremonies had great importance in affirming that the recipient enjoyed privileges such as the right to trade and own property, and protection within the town.
In modern society, the award of honorary freedom of the city or borough tends to be entirely ceremonial, given by the local government in many towns and cities on those who have served in some exceptional capacity, or upon any whom the city wishes to bestow an honour.
Before parliamentary reform in 1832, freedom of the city or town conferred the right to vote in the 'parliamentary boroughs' for the MPs. Until the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 the freemen were the exclusive electorate for some of the boroughs. These two acts together curtailed the power of the freemen and extended the franchise to all 'householders' (defined as local rate payers; in fact therefore property owners). The private property belonging to the freemen collectively was retained. The freemen of York, Oxford and Newcastle upon Tyne still own considerable areas within their towns, although the income is effectively given to support charitable objects. The Local Government Act 1972 specifically preserved freemen's rights.The Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009 removed any restrictions entitling only men to be freemen.
Today, the grant of honorary freedom in the United Kingdom is governed by the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended by the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act 2009). The 1972 Act enabled the councils of cities, royal boroughs, boroughs, and parishes (or, in Wales, communities) with the status of a royal town to confer the status of honorary freeman on "persons of distinction and persons who have, in the opinion of the council, rendered eminent services" to the local area.The 2009 Act extends the ability to grant the status of honorary freeman to any county, city, district, borough, town, parish or community council (so removing the requirement for the town to have 'royal' status, and also enabling county councils to confer the honour). A special meeting of the council can grant the honour by passing a resolution with a two-thirds majority at a specially convened meeting.
The exact qualifications for borough freedom differ between each city or town, but generally fall into two categories, 'patrimony' (inheritance) and 'servitude' (apprenticeship). For example, in Chester, only the children or grandchildren of freemen may apply for admission. In York, this extends to great- and great-great-grandchildren, and apprenticeship to a freeman of the city will also allow admission.In Great Grimsby, the widow of a freeman passes his rights to her second husband, who retains the privilege after either divorce from or death of the widow. The borough freedom is strongest in York, Chester, Newcastle upon Tyne and Coventry; in Coventry, freedom is qualified by having served an apprenticeship. Durham and Northampton have extended their admission criteria to those who have served an apprenticeship without being 'bound' (trained) by a freeman directly. Freemen of Newcastle upon Tyne are bestowed the right to graze cattle on the town moor.
Recipients of this honour have included athlete Mary Peters,actor Kenneth Branagh, diplomat John Jordan, industrialist Andrew Carnegie, shipowner Thomas Henry Ismay and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
In England, the most established borough freedom is that conferred by the Freedom of the City of London, first recorded in 1237. This is closely tied to the role and status of the livery companies. From 1835, the freedom "without the intervention of a Livery Company" has been bestowed by a general resolution of Common Council, by "redemption" (purchase), at one time for an onerous sum. Now the Freedom can be obtained by servitude, by patrimony, by nomination, or by presentation via a Livery Company. Freedom through nomination by two sponsors is available for a fee (known as a "fine") of £100, [update] but is free to those on the electoral roll of the City.
New freemen are enrolled in a ceremony in Guildhall, when they receive a guide to conducting their lives in an honourable fashion and a sealed certificate. Freemen's children get admission preference at the City of London Freemen's School. 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 freeman drunk 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 by Freemen on special occasions, these "privileges" are now effectively symbolic.
The right to herd sheep and cattle across London's four bridges technically no longer applies, as there are no livestock markets in the city.Nevertheless, this right has been exercised, or the city has granted permission, on several occasions in modern times:
By 2015, the driving of sheep across the bridge had become an annual event, organised by the Worshipful Company of Woolmen livery company, typically to raise funds for the Lord Mayor's Appeal and the Worshipful Company of Woolmen.
York has a long history of freemen dating back to the Anglo-Saxon period, with records dating back to 1272.Freemen may claim their rights through patronage (as far back as their great-great-grandparent, there are records of women being admitted in York in medieval times, a right forgotten for a time until the late 1970s when the gild carried out research and rediscovered it) or apprenticeship. Once 'sworn in', freemen can join the Gild (archaic spelling used) of Freemen who continue to take an interest in the affairs of the city. New admissions are made every year (usually October) following an admission ceremony with the Lord Mayor at the Guildhall.
In Ireland, borough freedom of the city is generally given to noted foreign and national dignitaries and the list rarely exceeds a few dozen. As in the United Kingdom, the title generally comes with various ancient privileges – for instance, freemen of Dublin are allowed the right to vote in certain elections, bring goods for sale in the city without customs and the right to pasture sheep on common ground such as College Green and St. Stephen's Green.
Freedom of the City is a privilege bestowed to individual units of the Canadian Forces. Many units exercise this privilege in conjunction with significant annual commemorations. The Calgary Highlanders commemorate the Battle of Kitcheners' Wood with an annual freedom of the city parade.
In some countries, such as the United States, an ornamental key – the ‘key to the city’ – is presented to esteemed visitors, residents, or others whom the city wishes to honour. This practice is a variation on the freedom of the city tradition, and has a similar symbolic meaning; evoking medieval walled cities, the gates of which would be guarded during the day and locked at night, the key symbolises the freedom of the recipient to enter and leave the city at will, as a trusted friend of city residents.
In some cities in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany, the key to the city is given to the so-called ‘prince carnival’ who leads the carnivals which take place the week prior to Septuagesima. The tradition is that the mayor steps down for this period and power is transferred to the prince carnival, who then returns the key at the end of Shrove Tuesday / Mardi Gras. Today, the handing over of the key is mostly symbolic and marks the start and end of the carnival.
In Canada, major cities including Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal may award a key to the city to influential business leaders, musicians, and political leaders. In 2016, the Canadian recording artist Drake received a key to the city of Toronto, presented by the mayor John Tory. Also, artist Travis Scott received the Key to the City of Houston presented by the mayor Sylvester Turner on 13 February 2019. In a local tradition, Calgary has opted to award esteemed visitors a symbolic cowboy hat instead of a key; this is usually followed by reciting one of two oaths (one formal, the other more silly) to become honorary Calgarians.
In New Zealand, on 22 May 2020, a domestic cat named Mittens was given the Key to the City of Wellington – New Zealand’s capital city. Mittens received a certificate outlining the honours bestowed on him, and was given a miniature key for his collar by Mayor Foster, who was dressed in full regalia for the auspicious occasion.
City status in the United Kingdom is granted by the monarch of the United Kingdom to a select group of communities: as of 2014, there are 69 cities in the United Kingdom – 51 in England, six in Wales, seven in Scotland and five in Northern Ireland. Although it carries no special rights, the status of city can be a marker of prestige and confer local pride.
The City of London Corporation, officially and legally the Mayor and Commonalty and Citizens of the City of London, is the municipal governing body of the City of London, the historic centre of London and the location of much of the United Kingdom's financial sector.
There are 110 livery companies, comprising London's ancient and modern trade associations and guilds, almost all of which are styled the 'Worshipful Company of...' their respective craft, trade or profession. These livery companies play a significant part in the life of the City of London, not least by providing charitable-giving and networking opportunities. Liverymen retain voting rights for the senior civic offices, such as the Lord Mayor, Sheriffs and Corporation, its ancient municipal authority with extensive local government powers.
The Worshipful Company of Scriveners is one of the 110 livery companies of the City of London. The Scriveners Company was originally known as the Mysterie of the Writers of the Court Letter and, since its incorporation, as Master Wardens and Assistants of the Company of Scrivenors of the Cittie of London [sic]. It is one of the few livery companies that from its foundation to the present day has been influential in setting the standards for a living profession, namely that of scrivener notary. The company's first ordinances were granted in 1373. Its Royal Charter was granted by King James I on 28 January 1617.
The Worshipful Company of Mercers is the premier Livery Company of the City of London and ranks first in the order of precedence of the Companies. It is the first of the Great Twelve City Livery Companies. Although of even older origin, the company was incorporated under a Royal Charter in 1394, the company's earliest extant Charter. The company's aim was to act as a trade association for general merchants, and especially for exporters of wool and importers of velvet, silk and other luxurious fabrics (mercers). By the 16th century many members of the company had lost any connection with the original trade. Today, the Company exists primarily as a charitable institution, supporting a variety of causes. The company's motto is Honor Deo, Latin for "Honour to God".
A recorder is a judicial officer in England and Wales and some other common law jurisdictions.
Leicester City Council is a unitary authority responsible for local government in the city of Leicester, England. It consists of 54 councillors, representing 22 wards in the city, overseen by a directly elected mayor. It is currently controlled by the Labour Party and has been led by Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby since his election on 6 May 2011. The main council building is City Hall on Charles Street, but council meetings are held in the 19th-century Town Hall.
Clonmel was a United Kingdom Parliament constituency, in Ireland, returning one MP. It was an original constituency represented in Parliament when the Union of Great Britain and Ireland took effect on 1 January 1801.
Borough status is granted by royal charter to local government districts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The status is purely honorary, and does not give any additional powers to the council or inhabitants of the district. In Scotland, similarly chartered communities were known as royal burghs, although the status is no longer granted.
The ancient boroughs were a historic unit of lower-tier local government in England and Wales. The ancient boroughs covered only important towns and were established by charters granted at different times by the monarchy. Their history is largely concerned with the origin of such towns and how they gained the right of self-government. Ancient boroughs were reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, which introduced directly elected corporations and allowed the incorporation of new industrial towns. Municipal boroughs ceased to be used for the purposes of local government in 1974, with borough status retained as an honorific title granted by the Crown.
The Freedom of the City of London is a recognition awarded to people who have achieved success, recognition or celebrity in their chosen field. 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 Freedom of the City of Aberdeen is an honour bestowed by the city of Aberdeen, Scotland.
The Honorary Freedom of Boroughs Act 1885 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that gave the councils of municipal boroughs in England and Wales the power to award the title of honorary freeman to "persons of distinction and any persons who have rendered emininent services to the borough".
The Freeman (Admission) Act 1763 is an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain. The Act withheld the right to vote in Parliamentary elections, in those boroughs where honorary freemen could vote, from any freemen admitted to the freedom within twelve months of the first day of the election; it did not affect the rights of ordinary freemen, admitted by the custom of the borough in question.
The Royal Commission on the Amalgamation of the City and County of London was a royal commission which considered the means for amalgamating the ancient City of London with the County of London, which had been created in 1889. The commission reported in 1894. The government headed by Lord Rosebery accepted the recommendations of the commission, but when a Conservative government under Lord Salisbury came to power in 1895 the reforms were almost entirely abandoned.
The Royal Commission on the Corporation of the City of London was a Royal Commission, established in 1853, which considered the local government arrangements of the City of London and the surrounding metropolitan area.
The Freedom of the City of Dublin is awarded by Dublin City Council after approving a person nominated by the Lord Mayor. Eighty-two people have been honoured under the current process introduced in 1876. Most honourees have made a contribution to the life of the city or of Ireland in general, including politicians, public servants, humanitarians, artists and entertainers; others were distinguished members of the Irish diaspora and foreign leaders, honoured visiting Dublin. Honourees sign the roll of freedmen in a ceremony at City Hall or the Mansion House and are presented with an illuminated scroll by the Lord Mayor.
Guildable Manor is a Court Leet in Southwark under the authority of the City of London, along with the King's Manor, Southwark, and the Great Liberty. The name of 'Guildable' first recorded in 1377 refers to the collection of taxes there and was adopted to distinguish this from the other manors of the Southwark area. Its legal title, according to a Royal charter granted to the City by King Edward III in 1327, is 'the ville of Southwark' i.e. 'ville = 'town'; in the more substantive charter of Edward VI it is designated 'The Town and Borough of Southwark' as is stated on its Seal. It is a preserved limited jurisdiction under the Administration of Justice Act 1977. Although neither a guild nor a livery company, the Guildable Manor does have a permanent organization, consisting of Officers and Jurors.
Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council is the local authority of the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham in Greater Manchester, England. It is a metropolitan district council, one of ten in Greater Manchester and one of 36 in the metropolitan counties of England, and provides the majority of local government services in Oldham. It is composed of 60 councillors, three for each of the 20 electoral wards of the borough. It is also branded and known simply as Oldham Council.