The Oath of the Free Man in Elizabethan London (1580)

Statue of Elizabeth I, church of St Dunstan in the West

Statue of Elizabeth I, church of St Dunstan in the West

“Ye shall swear that ye shall be good and true to our sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth, …  and to the heirs of our said sovereign Lady … .  Obeisant and  obedient ye shall be to the Mayor and to the ministers of the City.  The franchises and customs thereof ye shall maintain and this City keep harmless … .

Ye shall be contributory to all manner of charges within this City, as summons, watches, contributions, tasks, tallages, lot and scot, … bearing your part as a freeman ought … .

Ye shall colour no foreign’s goods whereby the Queen might lose her custom or advantages.

Ye shall know no foreign to buy or sell any merchandise within the City … , but ye shall warn the Chamberlain thereof, or some minister … .

Ye shall emplead or sue no free man out of this City whiles ye may have right and law within this same City.

Ye shall take none apprentice but if he be free born, … and for no less than seven years … . [A]t his term’s end ye shall make him free of this City, if he have well and truly served you

Ye shall … keep the Queen’s peace in your person; ye shall know no gatherings, conventicles, nor conspiracies made against the Queen’s peace, but ye shall warn the Mayor thereof … .

All these points and articles ye shall well and truly keep, according to the laws and custom of the City … .  So God you help, and by the holy contents of this Book”.

The Braun & Hogenberg map of Tudor London (1572)

The Braun & Hogenberg map of Tudor London (1572)

2 thoughts on “The Oath of the Free Man in Elizabethan London (1580)

  1. CityandLlivery

    The current Declaration of a Freeman (of the City of London) remains largely unchanged from this Oath of 1580. Every year circa 1,800 new Freemen of the City of London are admitted in an ancient ceremony in Guildhall. Slightly more than half of those new Freemen come by way of one of the City of London’s 110 ancient and modern Livery Companies. The Freedom remains a pre-requisite for election to any office of trust in the City of London Corporation and for promotion within the Livery Companies.

    Learn more at: http://www.cityandlivery.co.uk or on twitter @CityandLivery

    Reply
  2. @CityandLivery

    The current Declaration of a Freeman (of the City of London) hasn’t changed much since 1580. Every year circa 1,800 new Freemen of the City of London are admitted in an ancient ceremony at Guildhall in the City. Slightly more than half of them come to the Freedom by way of one of the City of London’s ancient and modern Livery Companies. The Freedom of the City of London is still a pre-requisite for election to all offices of trust in the City of London Corporation, and a pre-requisite for promotion within the Livery Companies.

    Find out more at: http://www.cityandlivery.co.uk or on twitter @CityandLivery

    Reply

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