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’
    • ‘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 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.’
    • ‘But an honour that seems to mean more to him than most was being made a freeman of Salford, his native city.’
    • ‘He is a grandson of Dr Pat O’ Callaghan, a twice-Olympic gold medallist and one of Clonmel's freemen.’
    • ‘I'm a proud Scot, a freeman of my native Edinburgh and a UK citizen, but this law treats me as a foreigner.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He was made a freeman of Fife in 1998, adding to the MBE he had received, and was knighted in 1999.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He shook off controversy surrounding the award to become an honorary freeman of his home borough of Stockport.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I think old JK will be pretty upset when he finds out I've been made a freeman of East Lothian before him.’
    • ‘From 1885, it was possible for a borough to create honorary freemen as a mark of local esteem.’
    • ‘His father, Pat, was mayor twice - in 1976 and 1993-and was later made a freeman following his retirement from the council.’
    • ‘Next month he will be made a freeman of his native Kilkenny.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 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.’
    inhabitant, resident, native, townsman, townswoman, householder, local
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  • 2historical A person who is not a slave or serf.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘These freemen were also responsible for helping the lord of the shire when he went hunting, and for various other services.’