More information about this collection is available here.
This database contains papers associated with application for "Freemen" status. Historically, Freedom papers go back to royal charters granted for the privilege to market, trade, or conduct business. Livery Companies (which originated in guilds) are associations of craftsmen whose members can earn Freemen status and who regulated their trade by controlling wages, labor conditions, and admission by apprenticeship. When an individual is granted Freedom papers they are made "Free of the City of London."
The three meanings of the word Freeman are: a man who did not have to pay trade taxes and shared in the profits of his borough, a person free of feudal service who had served their apprenticeship and could trade in their own right, and anyone who was a member of a City Guild. "Freedom of the Company" meant that a person had earned freemen status within the company or guild and could then apply for Freedom of the City. The tradition of becoming a Freeman is still practiced today and is a point of pride for both men and women though the practical reasons for membership are no longer necessary.
Freedom admission papers can record many biographical details about the individual to whom Freemen status is awarded making this collection of particular interest to genealogists. Many of the documents in this collection are "indentures" or sealed agreements for things like apprenticeship agreements. The original document was made with all copies on the same page of parchment. An "indented" or wavy line was drawn between these copies, which were then cut apart straight through the wavy line. When brought together later these copies could be realigned or "tallied" by matching the indented lines.
Information in this database:
- Date of indenture
- Parent or guardian’s name
- County of residence
- Master’s name
Due to the manner in which is these records were organized and preserved, there may be records outside of the year range designated in the archive reference information and the browse.
Some of the above information was taken from:
- Fitzhugh, Terrick V. H. and Susan Lumas. The Dictionary of Genealogy.