Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, March 5, 2018

English Freedom of the City Records

London, England, Freedom of the City Admission Papers, 1681-1930

This is a Freedom of the City Admission Paper for my ancestor Joseph George DeFriez. From this document, I learned the following on, About London, England, Freedom of the City Admission Papers, 1681-1930:
Freedom admission papers can record many biographical details about the individual to whom Freemen status is awarded making this collection of particular interest to genealogists. Many of the documents in this collection are "indentures" or sealed agreements for things like apprenticeship agreements. The original document was made with all copies on the same page of parchment. An "indented" or wavy line was drawn between these copies, which were then cut apart straight through the wavy line. When brought together later these copies could be realigned or "tallied" by matching the indented lines. 
The word "indenture" comes from the Late Middle English word endenture, via Anglo-Norman French from medieval Latin indentura, from indentatus, past participle of indentare. Consistent with the description the word has come to be applied to a deed or agreement executed in two or more copies with edges correspondingly indented as a means of identification. Here is an image of an indentured document:

So, an indentured servant is one who subject to a contract or an agreement. Anciently, the documents were validated by the wavy line. 

The Freedom of the City document above is described by the City of London website as follows:
Freedom of the City
One of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies still in existence today, is believed to have been first presented in 1237. 
History and origins
The medieval term 'freeman' meant someone who was not the property of a feudal lord but 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 term 'freedom' of the City. 
From the Middle Ages and the Victorian era, the Freedom was the right to trade, enabling members of a Guild or Livery to carry out their trade or craft in the Square Mile. 
A fee or fine would be charged and in return the Livery Companies would ensure that the goods and services provided would be of the highest possible standards. In 1835, the Freedom was widened to incorporate not just members of Livery Companies but also people living or working in the City or those with a strong London connection. 
Modern Freedom
Today most of the practical reasons for obtaining the Freedom of the City have disappeared. It nevertheless remains as a unique part of London’s history to which many people who have lived or worked in the City have been proud to be admitted. 
Prior to 1996, the Freedom was only open to British or Commonwealth Citizens. Now, however, it has been extended globally and persons of any nationality may be admitted either through nomination or by being presented by a Livery Company. There is a long standing tradition of admitting women. 
The City of London is keen to maintain the Freedom as a living tradition. The Freedom is open to all who are genuinely interested and invited or born to it. The City Freemen are a very broad cross-section of the population. 
The Freedom in the City today is still closely associated with membership of the City Livery Companies.
In a real sense, the Freedom of the City guaranteed that the person was not an indentured servant.

No comments:

Post a Comment