Guild of Freemen Of Berwick-upon-Tweed



The rules of admission are revised from time to time by the Guild. As the actual conferring of the Freedom is carried out by the Mayor, any revision of the rules have to be accepted by the Mayor and Town Clerk. The Rules were last revised in 2010 allowing admission of daughters

Persons entitled to be admitted to the Freedom must make a formal claim to the Mayor. In practice there is a standard form which must be completed. It is signed by the Town Clerk who informs the Mayor. The notice of claim must be published outside the side door of the Town Hall for at least forty-eight hours. Admissions are normally made on the four quarter days. However special arrangements can be made at other times as long as there is a valid reason and the Mayor is available. There is a payment, traditionally this was made up of £1 to Grammar School, 80p to the Funds of the Corporation (originally to cover the cost of two leather fire buckets), 33p to Town Clerk, 6p to Sergeant at Mace and the cost of a copy of the Freemen's roll and tube for Certificate. A single charge of £20 is now made.

Admissions normally take place in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall. The applicant and his sponsor must be present.

The Mayor enters the Chamber preceded by the Sergeant at Mace who carries the Mace presented to the Borough by the Guild in 1951. The Mayor is normally accompanied by the Sheriff and Town Clerk. The Town Clerk confirms that the claim has been verified and the sponsor confirms the identity of the claimant. The claimant takes the Freemen's Oath, which may have been in use for over four hundred years. The Mayor then instructs the Town Clerk to enter the claimant's name in the Freemen's Roll and the Mayor, Town Clerk and new Youngest Freeman sign the Certificate. The Mayor and Sheriff address the meeting and the Chairman of the Guild welcomes the new Freeman, clothing him with the robes of a Berwick Freeman.


1. That all sons or daughters of Freemen, born in lawful wedlock are entitled, on attaining the age of twenty-one years, to be admitted and enrolled on the Freemen's Roll of the Borough, on proof of identity and age (to be made by declaration, accompanied by a certified copy of entry of birth), and on payment of a fee of £20.

2. That the son or daughter of a Freeman, who has been, or shall be, legitimated under or by virtue of the provisions of the Legitimacy Acts, 1926 and 1976, be entitled to be admitted to the freedom on attaining the age of twenty-one years, or after the date of legitimisation, whichever last happens. (Guild Meeting, 19th. November, 1927).

3. Persons not being the son or daughter of Freemen, may be bound as Apprentices to a Resident Freeman carrying on a trade or business according to the rules of apprenticeship of the Guild from time to time. Such persons may take up their freedom on completion of their apprenticeship and attaining the age of twenty -one years. (Revised Guild Meeting November, 2008)

Notes on the above Rules.

No person can be made free unless 48 hours' previous notice of claim has been signed by the Town Clerk and published near the outer (now side) door of the Town Hall.

Persons claiming to be admitted must intimate the same to the Town Clerk in order that the necessary arrangements may be made.

The Roll of the Resident Freemen and Resident Widows of Freemen, is compiled annually after Michaelmas Day (29th. September) by the Clerk to the Trustees, names being entered in order of seniority (except in the case of Widows being second or third spouses, as hereinafter mentioned), such seniority being determined by the dates upon which Freemen were respectively admitted to the Freedom. It is then submitted for approval to a special meeting of the Trustees. This meeting is to be advertised in the local press as open to freemen so that any objections to the new Resident Roll may be heard.


The Roll of Resident Freemen is compiled annually after Michaelmas Day (29 September), by the Clerk to the Trustees. It is submitted to a special meeting of the Trustees for approval. This meeting must be advertised in the local press and is open for all Freemen to attend so that any objections can be made.

To be included on the Residents' Roll, a Freeman must have resided within the Liberties of Berwick, i.e., north of the River Tweed and within the Bounds, from the previous Lady Day (25 March) to Michaelmas Day. Incomers must attend personally at the office of the Clerk to the Trustees on or before Lady Day in order to have their names recorded in the Incomers' Book.

The names of Freemen are entered in the Resident Roll in order of seniority, determined by the date of admission to the Freedom. Widows inherit the Freedom in their own right on the death of their spouse. In the case of a first spouse, she assumes the seniority of her spouse's date of admission. In the case of a second spouse, younger than their spouse, they are assumed to have been admitted to the freedom at the same age as their spouse was admitted. Where a freeman marries for a third time after the age of 60, their spouse is placed on the roll next after the then youngest Resident Freeman.

In the case of daughters who have taken up the freedom they will be entered in their own name. After their name there will be entered in brackets the family surname from which the freedom was inherited. In the case of a daughter of a male freeman this will be their father’s name. In subsequent generations this will be the same surname of the father of the original daughter who claimed the freedom.


These roles are compiled at intervals. They cover all freemen who have been made free during the time period covered by the roll. In the case of daughters claiming the freedom the entry will include in brackets the family surname from which the freedom was inherited.

Rules Governing admission to the Freedom by Apprenticeship.

As Amended 2008

A prospective apprentice must be presented to the full Guild before commencing his apprenticeship.

The apprentice must be between the ages of 16 and 25.

The trade of business within which he is to be apprenticed must have a work place, office or a registered office within the Bounds of Berwick.

The nominal apprenticeship must be to a Freemen of Berwick. This may be an employer or other employee within the firm. The said Freeman will be responsible for ensuring that the employment during the apprenticeship complies with the requirement for that trade, profession or business.

The length of apprenticeship shall be the normal custom within that employment.

On completion of the apprenticeship the nominal freeman shall report to the Guild that the apprenticeship has been completed.

The person may then take up their freedom provided they have attained the age of 21.