Coat of ArmsThe Worshipful Company of SaddlersThe Saddlers Company
Livery Companies Freedom

The Freedom of the City was, from medieval times to the early 19th Century, a prerequisite for any man who wished to work or trade within the City's boundaries.

Among the privileges of a Freeman were immunity from tolls at markets and fairs throughout the Realm, the right to vote in Ward and Parliamentary elections and protection against being press ganged to the Navy or Army - although the duties of a Freeman included that of bearing arms in the defence of the City.

The whole municipal structure of London was based on the status of the Freemen. The continuing admission of Freemen is today one of the significant differences between the Corporation of London and every other local authority in Great Britain.

There are two routes to the Freedom of the City: one is by means of the privilege granted to the guilds in 1319 which gave their Freemen the right to be admitted to the Freedom of the City by the Court of Aldermen. The second - which dates from 1835 - allows those who are not members of livery companies to be admitted to the Freedom of the City by the Court of Common Council.

No Freeman of a livery company may become a Liveryman of his company unless he is also a Freeman of the City of London.

The medieval trade and craft guilds originally consisted of a "commonalty" in which all members were equal. In time, a necessary hierarchy developed, with wardens and their assistants to govern the guild.

Those members with wealth and influence, who took to wearing clothing and badges to denote their allegiance, became known as "Liverymen" - a reference to the uniforms which the retainers and officers of great households received from their overlords.

 

Prince Frederick's City Freedom certificate, 1736, showing his Saddler affiliation; bought at auction by the Company in 1962
Prince Frederick's City Freedom certificate, 1736, showing his Saddler affiliation; bought at auction by the Company in 1962