Guild of Freemen Of Berwick-upon-Tweed



The Freemen's Committee administer certain charities on behalf of the Guild. These charities are as follows;-

The 1926 Fund. The Fund was set up under the 1926 Act and is administered by the Freemen's Committee. Income comes from part of the proceeds from the sale of land or property of the Freemen's Estate within Schedules I and II. The use of the Fund is laid down in the 1926 Act and is for resident Freemen and widows of resident Freemen. The interest from the Fund is disbursed each year to all resident Freemen who are over the age of 65 or  have retired or are disabled and unable to work. A supplement is paid to those resident Freemen who have been on the roll for fifty years or more. The Committee may also consider payments to those who have been unable to obtain employment during the year.

The Jane Turner Fleming Fund. This Fund came from the residuary estate of Jane Turner Fleming, the daughter of an eminent Freeman, Joseph Fleming, who had also been  Mayor of the Borough. It is administered by the Freemen's Committee. The interest from the Fund is disbursed each year at a special meeting of the Committee to spinster or widowed daughters of Freemen resident within the Liberties of Berwick who have a limited income.

The Reserve Fund. The income for this Fund is from the surplus income from the Estate, the distribution of which was agreed by arbitration in 1933 - 34. It is administered by the Freemen's Committee. This Fund is to be used for the protection and promotion of the general interests of the Freemen, or for any charitable purposes for the benefit or relief of Freemen. These restrict the use of the Fund to items within the Liberties of Berwick for resident Freemen or matters which would be in their interests.

In many years there was little or no surplus income from the Estate due to debts which had accumulated and the requirement to modernise the Town Hall and farm properties. By the 1980s the Estate began to have regular surpluses. The money placed in the Reserve Fund was held as there was a dispute with the Borough over the future of the Estate and the Freemen retained funds to be able to finance any necessary legal action. This position was resolved in 1996. The Fund then became available for it's original purposes.

Over the years the Freemen have used the Reserve Fund for a number of items to enhance Berwick, it's civic traditions and the Guild. These include the gift of the Mace to the town (1952), curtains for the Council Chamber in the Guildhall (1953), part cost of bugles for 1st. Battalion Royal Northumberland Fusiliers (1954), Bible to mark 300th. anniversary of the Parish Church (1963), contribution to the cost of a chain for the Mayoress (1963), preservation of 16th. century tempera wall painting in Bridge Street Tavern (1965), silver salver for use in the Mayor's parlour in memory of the late Thomas Evans, Freeman, Mayor, Sheriff, Alderman and Councillor (1967), the Parish Church appeal (1979) and the Parish Church floodlighting (1995), the town centre CCTV (1995),  donations towards upkeep of Guild records (1996), seats outside Town Hall (1996), Christmas lights (1997), a computer for the Borough Archivist to allow Freemen family trees to be kept (1997), the archaeological evaluations at the Narrowgate (Eastern Lane, 1998) and Castle Terrace (1998) plus various other local improvements.

In 1997 the Committee introduced a bereavement grant paid to the families of resident Freemen following the death of an immediate family member. It was agreed to part finance a bridge over the River Whitadder to enable the riding of that part of the Bounds west of the river. A number of other possible uses of the Reserve Fund are being considered, such as housing for resident Freemen.  

Freeman’s Court , Freemen’s Guild’s Housing