Welcome to the website for the City of Lincoln’s Gild of Freemen.
The exact origins of the Freedom have never been discovered. Freemen (the name Burgesses are used by some towns and cities, this ensures that Freemen are not confused with Freemasons!) were known to have existed in Anglo-Saxon times and it is believed it may have been started earlier in Ancient Briton and Roman periods. They usually owned dwellings and were permitted and in many cases obliged, to bear arms for the defense of their towns.
As in the majority of other towns, many of Lincoln’s Freemen were originally members of the old trade and craft Gilds. They had a monopoly of trade in the City, but their authority was badly shaken by the Civil War and although attempts were made to resume their functions, they never really recovered and by the middle of the Eighteenth Century the majority of them had disappeared.
The freedom of the City was considered a very important privilege and indeed essential if an inhabitant was thinking of trading or holding Civic office in the City. These privileges were protected by various Royal and Local Charters granted to the City. In fact up to 1835, they were responsible for civic duties now performed by Central and Local Government. In return they were eligible to participate in several privileges and property rights; they could be admitted to civic office, obtain leases of corporate property, enjoy rights of pasture and use of common land and were exempt from tolls.
The City of Lincoln Freeman’s Gild
The City of Lincoln Freemen’s Gild was founded in the reign of Edward the Confessor. It was revived in 1893 and again re-summoned in 1972. The Freemen no longer have any ‘privileges’ but as it says in our rules:-
The object of the Lincoln Freemen’s Gild is to do everything possible to enhance the good reputation of the City and to encourage and assist the citizens and Freemen of Lincoln to realize their public and civic responsibilities and to serve their City in any way which, individually and collectively, is open to them.