Freeman of the City of London & Liveryman of the WCFM

Neil StevensonNeil has been a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Furniture makers, one of over one hundred livery companies in the City of London for many years, a position which marks the entry point for all members. However, in order to become a Liveryman and to serve as a member of the court and potentially be made Master all nominated Liverymen must become a Freeman of the City of London.

At a ceremony in London on the 5th July in what is one of the oldest traditional ceremonies still in existence today with the first Freedom ceremony believed to have been held in 1237, Neil received that honour before being appointed Liveryman to the WCFM.

The ceremony took place in the Chamberlain's Court at London's Guildhall and was conducted by the Clerk of the Court. After Neil read the 'Declaration of a Freeman' and signed the Freeman's Declaration Book, he was presented with a copy of the Freedom, together with a copy of the 'Rules for the Conduct of Life' which date from the mid-18th century.

There are a number of ancient privileges associated with the position that include the right to herd sheep over London bridge, to go about the City with a drawn sword, and if convicted of a capital offence, to be hung with a silken rope. Other advantages are said to have included the right to avoid being press-ganged, to be married in St. Paul's Cathedral, buried in the City and to be drunk and disorderly without fear of arrest.

Today, most of the practical reasons for obtaining the Freedom of the City have long disappeared but nevertheless it remains 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.

Posted on 12th July 2012

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