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The meaning of "freemen"


Thanks.   The language used puzzled me...  I've since done a bit of snooping
around on my own, but still don't understand the terminology very well.

As I understand it, in the late middle ages in the UK and Europe, cities and
towns were tolerated by the nobility and considered "free" because of the
prosperity and material goods that they produced.  In turn, the cities
recognized their citizens, (particularly the artisans and guild members), as
"free men", in contrast with the relative serf-like state enjoyed by their
country cousins. (Heady stuff... this freedom...  it's probably no surprise
that it was hard to keep folks "down on the farm").

For example in Belfast in the 17th century some people were admitted as free

"Alexander Sinclaire, merchant, admitted and sworn a free commoner,
April 22, 1647"  (taken from the "Roll of the Freemen", from "Miscellaneous
Notes from the Town Book of the Corporation of Belfast, 1613-1816", by
Robert M. Young - 1892).  *

It sounds like by the time the 17th century had rolled around, the title of
"Freeman" had become more of an honorific than an accurate description of
their state. Merely a guess, of course!

I look forward to hearing what you learn in Scotland.



* the quotation was cribbed from "The Sinclaire Family of Belfast, N.
Ireland and their descendents, 1660-1960", by Mrs St Claire Lappe Daub,
Springfield, PA, USA,  published in 1960.  (I have a copy the genealogy that
I obtained from the Library of Congress). JWE

> --Boundary_(ID_vX0+1KZTR5u+nAmU76RtVA) Content-type: text/plain;
> charset=us-ascii Content-transfer-encoding: 7BIT
> "he was deprived of his freedom by Act of Council 18 August 1655" for me?
> Does it refer to his status as Freeman?  If so, why didn't he have an F next
> to his name.
> Joe, It's a very cryptic notation. I'll ask someone in Scotland about it...
> My questions are - What is "Council?"  City Council? "....deprived of
> freedom..." Is that a nice way of saying thrown in prison? Or simply a status

[ Excess quotations omitted. ]

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