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Freeburgess of Colchester

How to become a Freeburgess of Colchester


  • How to apply to become a Freeburgess
  • What is a Freeburgess?
  • Eligibility and birthright
  • Servitude

How to apply to become a Freeburgess


To apply for admission to the Freedom of the Borough of Colchester the easiest method is to fill in an application form and send it, with the relevant evidence to the Mayor's Office at Colchester Borough Council.

The Mayor's Office
Colchester Borough Council
Rowan House
Sheepen Road
Colchester CO3 3WG
Tel: (01206) 282206

What is a Freeburgess?


The title Freeburgess (formally known as Freeman of the Borough), confirmed by the 1189 Royal Charter of Richard the Lionheart, was originally bestowed on valued members of the community and historically provided privileges in keeping with that era.  For residents holding Freeburgess status today it is a purely ceremonial honour.



There are two possible ways to become a Freeburgess of Colchester - by birthright or by servitude.  Colchester Borough Council holds a Freeburgess Ceremony annually in the Town Hall where new members are admitted to the freedom.  The ceremony is presided over by the Mayor and most new members gain their freedom by birthright with only an occasional claimant by servitude.



All children of a freeburgess (formally known as freemen) are eligible once they reach the age of 21.  A claim may be made through either a parent or grandparent whether living or deceased.  In fact, if you were born before your parent became a freeburgess then you must apply through your grandparent and you must have been born after they became freeburgesses.



To become a Freeburgess by servitude a candidate needs to be accepted as an apprentice to a Master Craftsman for seven years.  The Master Craftsman is also required to be a Freeburgess of Colchester. Over 400 Master Craftsman trades and crafts qualify, from traditional occupations such as cabinet makers, thatchers and coffin makers to modern skills including aluminium fabrication and asbestos products and removal. Full details can be found on the Guild of Master Craftsmen website.

If you are accepted for admission you will receive an invitation to the Freeburgess ceremony, presided over by the Mayor, and held in the Town Hall annually.  Having been identified, according to the ancient custom, you will stand with the other candidates and recite the ancient oath of obedience or an affirmation.

Freeburgess Admission Ceremony


The next Freeburgess Admission Ceremony will be held on 5 April 2023 at Colchester Town Hall. The ceremony will start at 5pm.

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