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Early Modern English Manuscripts

Freedom of the City

Freedom of the City of London

Mayor Paul Le Mesurier, esq. and Chamberlain John Walker, esq. to Charles Walker, Stationer of London. Admission to the City of London. London: 8 October 1794. English. Engraved, with manuscript additions in brown ink on parchment.
60 X 420 mm. Blind stamped (far right), and decorated with the printed armorial of the City of London.

Image of Admission to the City of LondonBy the eighteenth century, engraved standardized documents with blanks for details became increasingly common. This piece is almost entirely engraved.

Admission to the Freedom of the City of London is one of the oldest surviving traditional ceremonies still in existence today. The first is thought to have been presented in 1237. Modern certificates look very much like the one here.

From the Middle Ages until the Victorian period, the Freedom was the right to trade, enabling members of a Guild or Livery to carry out their trade or craft in the City of London. In this case, Charles Walker would have been permitted to work as a printer in the city. Now the Freedom is purely honorary.