Prior to the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill receiving Royal Assent on 12th November 2009, admittance was restricted to sons or apprentices of Freemen. The Bill stripped away gender restrictions to give daughters equal rights to the Freelage by inheritance.
In Newcastle upon Tyne freedom is acquired by inheritance or apprenticeship and until 1835 occasionally by gift. Freemen elsewhere may have different procedures depending upon the individual custom of their particular town or city.
Any son or daughter born in lawful wedlock or apprentice of a Freeman on reaching the age of 20 and in the case of an apprentice, having completed his apprenticeship, is entitled to become a Freeman on complying with the proper formalities.
As a first step the applicant should apply to the Stewards of the Company through which his father, mother or master hails. The Stewards, having satisfied themselves of the validity of the claim, pass the application to the Lord Mayor's Office to be called at the next Court of Guild. In the case of inheritance the name is called once, in the case of an apprentice three times. This system gives the Freemen the opportunity to object and call a stop to the proceedings if they are not satisfied that all is in order. (Advice on application can sought from the office of the Stewards Committee or an application can be made directly to the Lord Mayor's Office.)Following the calling of their Guilds the applicant must be sworn in before the Lord Mayor. Whilst taking the Freemen's Oath, now converted into a Declaration, the applicant holds an antique firearm symbolising the part of the Oath which reads "stands charged with a musket for the defence thereof", thus still, in theory at least, undertaking to defend the City.
Freedom by apprenticeship (for a long period the commonest method) was subject to compliance with old customs designed to restrict entry. Today this method is only open to very few companies as a matter of practicality.
A Roll of Freemen from 1820 is held at Moor Bank Lodge, this is a purely a register of the date a Freeman was sworn in. The Company of Freemen through which the individual hails may hold further information. (See list of Senior Stewards for contact details.)
Honorary Freelage is not the same as hereditary freelage, therefore we hold no records. This is granted by the City Council and has been bestowed on individuals and regiments.
If you are trying to find details of a current or former Freeman, please try to provide:
The Name of the Incorporated Company of Freemen
Date of birth
Freemen of Newcastle upon Tyne
Moor Bank Lodge
Newcastle upon Tyne