One of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies still in existence today is the granting of the freedom of the city of Salford.
The medieval term 'freeman' traditionally meant someone who was not the property of a feudal lord, but enjoyed privileges such as the right to earn money and own land. Town dwellers who were protected by the charter of their town or city were often free - hence the term 'freedom of the city'.
The conferment of the Honorary Freedom of a borough or city has been established since 1885 as the highest honour which the local authority can bestow. Historically, it had not always been treated with such reverence. Until the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 put an end to the practice, it had been possible to appoint honorary freemen for less noble reasons, not least of which might have been the future disposition of their vote at elections.
To be granted the title of Honorary Freeman is a mark of distinction upon the person whom the council wishes to honour. The freedom itself carries no privilege and is purely an honour, reflecting the eminence of the person on whom it is conferred or as recognition of significant and valuable services rendered to the city by that person. It is normally an honour or award to men or women of note who have lived or worked in the city, and who are proud to be a part of the city's history by becoming freemen or in the case of HM Services Units, freedom of the city. It should not be awarded to serving councillors.
The freedom of the city is considered the highest honour that the city council can bestow on an individual.
The freedom of the city will be given to persons:
|Mike Leigh||24 July 2019||24 July 2019||Renowned film director|
|Harold Riley||15 November 2017||15 November 2017||Renowned artist|
|Ryan Giggs||March 2009||January 2010||Worsley resident and football ace|
|Nelson Mandela||September 2004||30 November 2005||Former South African President Nelson Mandela|
|Sir Peter Maxwell Davies||August 2004||November 2004||Classical composer, Master of the Queen's Music|
|Royal Regiment of Fusiliers||21 August 1974||26 April 1975||Long-standing links between the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and the former City of Salford|
|James Roberts||Not available||27 March 1973||Director of civic welfare for 17 years|
|Charis Ursula Frankenburg||Not available||27 March 1973||JP in Salford and service in field of health and social welfare|
|Sampson Goldstone||Not available||27 March 1973||JP in Salford and services in industry and social welfare|
|D E P Norton||Not available||27 March 1973||Eminent services to Salford in field of industry|
|John Henry Lester||6 December 1972||27 March 1973||Ex-Mayor, member of the council for 35 years and chairman of the Sewerage Committee|
|Harry Calderwood||Not available||27 March 1973||Member of the city council for 21 years|
|L S Lowry||Not available||March 1965||World-famous artist|
|Abraham Williamson||October 1959||January 1960||Ex-Mayor, ex-tory leader and chairman of finance committee|
|John Rothwell||October 1959||January 1960||Ex-Mayor, ex-liberal leader and business tycoon|
|Edward Arthur Hardy||October 1959||January 1960||Alderman, leader of the city council and former MP|
|George Brown||October 1959||January 1960||Former superintendent of Hope Hospital|
|Lancashire Fusiliers||3 September 1947||18 October 1947||Long-standing links between the Lancashire Fusiliers and the former City of Salford|
|Rev Canon Peter Green||July 1944||Not available||Rector of St Phillips, 1911 to 1951|
|Alfred Willett||May 1935||Not available||Moving spirit behind Salford poor children's holiday camp|
|Lord Colwyn||July 1933||Not available||Industrial magnate who did a lot of charitable work|
|Frank Samuel Phillips||October 1923||Not available||Alderman, leader of the city council for many years|
|David Lloyd George||July 1918||October 1922||Tribute to his leadership as Prime Minister during WW1|
|Benn Wolfe Levy||January 1899||Not available||Responsible for the David Lewis Recreation Ground|
|Benjamin Armitage||January 1899||Not available||Cotton magnate with a fantastic record of social work|
A number of ancient privileges are usually associated with the freedom - although they are more a product of collective memory than of documented evidence. For example freemen of the city of London have a 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 or to be drunk and disorderly without fear of arrest.
Today the 'freedom of the city' has no real privileges and is instead regarded as an honour or award to men or women of note who have lived or worked in the city, and who are proud to be a part of the city's history by becoming freemen.
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This page was last updated on 15 August 2019