Freemen Records

Part of: Search Londonderry Corporation records

Records of the Freemen of the City have now been digitised and are available to view online. These are Registers and extracts from the Minute Books which relate to Freemen of the City.

Who were the Freemen and what was their role in the Corporation?

Freemen were originally members of the City craft guilds. However by the mid eighteenth century the Freemen were practically semi-hereditary and it was a closely controlled group consisting of those entitled by birth, apprenticeship, marriage or purchase or those granted it by a favour. Freemen were often not resident in the City and rarely came from a merchant or commercial background.

The Corporation operated as an administrator of land and property, as granted during the Ulster Plantation, collecting rents and engaging in legal battles with the city’s London landlord, the Irish Society and any others who challenged locally established rights.

The jurisdiction and liberties of Londonderry city extended 3 miles in every direction (including the River Foyle east bank). Liberties didn’t imply ownership of land; rather it meant the liberty to exercise one’s craft or trade. No one could carry out business in the liberties unless he was a Freeman.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, in a city dominated by merchants, shopkeepers and craftsmen, only Freemen of the City were entitled to conduct business, own property and receive protection within the walled city.  

The ‘ailen dues’ were a tax on traders who sought to sell their goods at the markets. The vast majority of traders were liable to such taxes, only the Freemen were classed as ‘non-ailen’. A custom charge was also added to practically all items sold in the markets; once again Freemen were favoured and charged up to 50% less.

The Corporation minute books also detail complaints by Freemen of ‘strangers and foreigners exercising their trade’ in the city and liberties.

View the Freemen Records

The links below access digital copies of four handwritten manuscripts relating to the Freemen of the City from 1675 to 1945. The original volumes are part of the Derry City and Strabane District Council Archive, currently housed in the Tower Museum. The first volume is an alphabetical index of the Freemen and the other three books contain extracts from the Corporation Minute Books where a Freeman or Freedom of the City is mentioned.

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.