Definition of freeman in English:



  • 1British A person who has been given the freedom of a city or borough.

    ‘he was made a freeman of the City of Birmingham in 1982’
    • ‘Any member of the Vintners' Company is a freeman of the City of London and is still allowed to sell wine without applying for a licence.’
    • ‘He shook off controversy surrounding the award to become an honorary freeman of his home borough of Stockport.’
    • ‘From 1885, it was possible for a borough to create honorary freemen as a mark of local esteem.’
    • ‘He was made a freeman of Fife in 1998, adding to the MBE he had received, and was knighted in 1999.’
    • ‘Honorary freemen can be elected by councillors to ‘persons of distinction and any persons who have rendered eminent services to the borough’ according to the Local Government Act 1972.’
    • ‘His father, Pat, was mayor twice - in 1976 and 1993-and was later made a freeman following his retirement from the council.’
    • ‘He is a grandson of Dr Pat O’ Callaghan, a twice-Olympic gold medallist and one of Clonmel's freemen.’
    • ‘The freedom is the highest tribute a borough can bestow, and although in modern times it is an honour only and confers no legal rights, honorary freemen are often invited to important ceremonial occasions.’
    • ‘He is favourite to become the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year and has also been made a freeman of Newcastle-upon-Tyne by the city council.’
    • ‘The former manager of Derby County, Nottingham Forest and, briefly, Leeds United became the first living person to be made an honorary freeman of the city of Derby.’
    • ‘Over the years, field marshals, generals, prime ministers and archbishops have been made honorary freemen of the city, although Winston Churchill did not take up the offer.’
    • ‘I'm a proud Scot, a freeman of my native Edinburgh and a UK citizen, but this law treats me as a foreigner.’
    • ‘Now Scarborough Council is proposing to make the presenter a freeman, an honour awarded to only a handful of worthies, including playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn.’
    • ‘Former Geraldton mayor Phil Cooper was made the city's fifth freeman this week in recognition of his 31 years service to the local council.’
    • ‘The married father of two sons is a freeman of Blackpool, was awarded the OBE in the Millennium honours list and made a Deputy Lieutenant for Lancashire in 2004.’
    • ‘But an honour that seems to mean more to him than most was being made a freeman of Salford, his native city.’
    • ‘During a 20-minute ceremony attended by 600 guests, including schoolchildren, local residents and dignitaries, the Prince was invested as a freeman of the city.’
    • ‘His father, also called William, was a hairdresser and was made a freeman of the city, an honour which passed to his son.’
    • ‘Next month he will be made a freeman of his native Kilkenny.’
    • ‘I think old JK will be pretty upset when he finds out I've been made a freeman of East Lothian before him.’
    inhabitant, resident, native, townsman, townswoman, householder, local
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  • 2historical A person who is not a slave or serf.

    • ‘The problem of loyalty was reflected in the ceremonial developments of the act of commendation in which a freeman became a vassal.’
    • ‘Above the serfs were the Villeins, freemen who were tied to their lord's land, equivalent to the Saxon gebur.’
    • ‘Although Norwich's custumal prohibited serfs from becoming freemen, it may be doubted that a thorough enquiry was made of the background of each applicant.’
    • ‘Bordars were reported on more than 90 per cent of estates, villans on about 60 per cent and freemen and sokemen on about 10 per cent of estates.’
    • ‘These freemen were also responsible for helping the lord of the shire when he went hunting, and for various other services.’