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.
Today 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
It's normal to claim Freemanship through 'hereditary right', which can be as far back as your a great-grandparent.
For your application you must:
- include your full name, address, occupation and date of birth
- be 21 years of age or older
- include original birth certificates showing parentage
- inlcude original marriage certificates, if applicable
- provide information on the relative who the claim is through, including:
- their full name
- their address at the time of admittance
- their occupation at the time of admittance
- the date they were admitted as a Freeman
We'll acknowledged your application in writing and return original certificates by recorded post.
If you're unsure of any requirements related to your application check the 'Roll of Freemen' in Archives and Local History collections at York Explore.
Freemanship through servitude
To become a 'Freeman by servitude' a you must be an apprentice to a master craftsman (who is already a Freeman of York) for five years. In these cases contact our Electoral Services team directly.
Freemanship application fee
An administration fee of £25 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, usually during October.
You'll be required to bring a witness to attest your identity (usually an older relative takes this role) and may also bring one guest (numbers are strictly limited) as you takes an 'Oath or Affirmation' in front of the Lord Mayor of York.
The Gild of Freemen also attend and take part in the ceremony.
- The Lord Mayor of York
- The Sheriff of York
- The Guildhall
- The Mansion House
- More information about City of York Council