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Freemen of the City of York

Records of the 'Freemen of the City of York' can be seen in the first list of Freemen dated 1272, while references exist going back to Anglo-Saxon times.

In the past, Freemen had an important role within the city in:

  • the control of trade
  • city strays
  • rights of pasture

Freemen were also involved in the running of the city until the Municipal Corporation Act 1835 which introduced town councils.

Nowadays, Freemen have no privileges in the city. However, once 'sworn in' Freeman can join the Gild of Freemen who continue to take an interest in the affairs of the city.

Apply for Freemanship in York

Our Freedom of the City of York information sheet sets out the rules for claiming freemanship.

It's normal to claim Freemanship through 'hereditary right', which can go as far back as a great-great-grandparent.

Applications for this year's freedom court are now closed. If you have made an application we'll acknowledge your application in writing and return your original certificates by recorded post.

Freemanship through servitude

To become a 'Freeman by servitude', you must have been an apprentice to a master craftsman (who is already a Freeman of York) for a minimum of five years. In these cases contact our Electoral Services team directly.

Freemanship application fee

An administration fee of £25.00 is payable when you are invited to attend a 'Court of Admittance'.

Annual Freedom Court

Applicants will be invited to attend the Annual Freedom Court which is held in the Guildhall.

The next Annual Freedom Court will take place on Thursday 19 October 2023.

You'll be required to bring a witness to attest your identity (usually an older relative). You may also bring one guest (numbers are strictly limited) as you take your 'Oath or Affirmation' in front of the Lord Mayor of York.

The Gild of Freemen also attend and take part in the ceremony.

Also see

Electoral Services

West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA

Telephone: 01904 551007