|The mayor of Lancaster, Coun Jon Barry, and chief executive of Lancaster City Council, Mark Cullinan, with the city's new Freemen|
One of Lancaster’s most historic traditions was celebrated last Saturday (25th July) when nine people were admitted as Freemen of the City.
Dating back to 1688, traditionally the honour of becoming a Freeman carried a number of privileges including the right to ‘pasture a limited number of beasts’ on the Marsh and to enter the city free from the payment of tolls.
Nowadays the role carries few rights, but remains popular amongst those who are proud of their heritage.
The Freeman’s Court was presided over by the Mayor of Lancaster, Coun Jon Barry, who said: “Traditions like the Freeman’s Court are part and parcel of what makes Lancaster special. I enjoyed presiding over this historic ceremony.”
Both men and women are eligible to apply to become a Freeman if they meet one of the following criteria:
• To be the son or daughter of a Freeman or Freewoman
• To have served an apprenticeship to a Freeman or Freewoman of the City for a period of seven years
• To have been born within the old city boundaries
• To have lived within the old city boundaries for a period of seven consecutive years
In each case, the applicant has to be at least 16 years of age.
The new recipients could, in time, also be eligible for their share of an annual payment known as ‘Marsh Grass’. This stems from 1900 when the Lancaster Corporation secured Parliamentary powers under which the Freemen's rights in the Marsh were extinguished subject to the payment by the Corporation of £13 per annum. Each year the 80 senior Freemen (or their widows) resident within the old city boundaries are entitled to claim the payment.