Freedom of the City
(A historical note)
FREEDOM dates back
almost eight hundred years to the earliest Norman times in Waterford. The
Charter which founded the Corporation in 1205 A.D. granted 'diverse
liberties, privileges, immunities and exemptions to the Citizens and their
successors' and the exercise of these benefits was for centuries the
prerogative ot the Freemen.
The original Freemen were
most likely designated and new Freemen could be created; otherwise
admittance to the Freedom was by right of birth, marriage or
apprenticehood. This meant that the sons of Freemen were entitled to be
admitted, also 'any person espoused to the daughter or widow of a Freeman'
and finally, 'any person bound as an apprentice to a Freeman.'
The principal rights of the
Freemen were (a) Franchise rights—for a very long time they were the only local
and parliamentary electors, (b) exclusive rights in trade and commerce and
(c) exemption from certain taxes, among which were numbered tolls,
lassage, passage, pontage, murrage, etc., these being fees in respect of
markets, fairs, crossing of bridges, entry of laden vehicles into the
town, etc.; all major concessions in their day, but which diminished and
eventually disappeared with the emergence of representative institutions
of local government.
was a reflection of the way of life in other ages as much of historical
conditions and it would be a mistake to conclude that they all belonged to
a governing alien class. Thomas Francis Meagher, soldier, orator and
patriot, who first proposed the Tricolour as Ireland's national Flag, was
a Freeman. (His portrait hangs in the Council Chamber and the personal
relics of his American career are on display in The civic museum—Waterford Treasures at the Granary).
custom existed, too, of admitting distinguished public figures as Freemen.
For example, Lemuel Cox, the Boston architect who, in 1793, built the
first (wooden) bridge across the Suir at Waterford, was so admitted.
Municipal Privilege Act of 1876, whereby each city in Ireland had the right to confer
freedom, regulated this practice and established
Honorary Freedom on an entirely new plane. Corporations availed of this
measure—although sparingly—to honour chosen public
figures and others whose accomplishments at home and abroad seemed to them
to merit recognition. The Honorary Freedom was extended under the Local
Government Act 1991 and counties as well as cities are now eligible to
as Honorary Freemen of Waterford since 1876 have been:—
||"…in recognition of services rendered…in restoring to this Corporation the privilege of nominating the gentlemen to act as High Sheriff of this ancient municipality."
|Charles Stewart Parnell
||"…in recognition of his eminent services in the cause of
||Reason for admission not recorded.
“…now a prisoner in Tullamore Gaol.”
“…we consider their [the British Government] conduct in
depriving him of his clothing as meriting the contempt of the
Lord Mayor of Dublin "…in recognition of his eminent service in the cause of Ireland."
F. S. Roberts
his return to his native town after many years absence." This
recognition caused some controversy
||"MP for Waterford City, 1891-1918; Leader of Irish Parliamentary Party, 1890-1918
|| On occasion of laying of foundation stone for Carnegie Library
of the five people charged at the time of the Manchester martyrs.
he spent 12 years in prison.
||Lord Justice of Appeal. "…whose early association with our City, whose Parliamentary ability and success and whose final elevation to the supreme Tribunal in Ireland are such characteristics as warrant us in giving to him the franchise of our County Borough."
recognition of his indomitable stand in defence of the democratic
principle of free and unfettered government." Freedom was
proposed on 17/8/1920.
Dr Paschal Robinson
|| First Papal Nuncio to visit city since seventeenth century.
Augustine Sepinski, O.F.M.
||Minister General, Franciscan Order
on the occasion of the unveiling of the statue of Luke Wadding,
Cardinal Browne, O.P.
of All Ireland
and founder of Waterford Music Club
Charles J. Henderson
of Waterford. Bishop of Tricola.
of Waterford Crystal
of two World Cross-Country titles.
Gerard G. McHugh, C.F.C
||Superior General of the Congregation of Christian Brothers.
On the occasion of the translation of the remains of Bro. Rice to
the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, Mount Sion.
of Ireland Archbishop and Primate
managing Director of Waterford Crystal
native. Founder of Little Brothers of the Good Shepherd
Waterford man who has the achieved the position of No.1 cyclist in
||"Provincial of De La Salle Brothers. On occasion of the centenary of the Order in the city"
recognition of her contribution to world theatre and for being an
ambassador for Waterford." Actress,
Waterford native. Winner of 'Tony' award on
Broadway, NY, for Best Featured Actress, 1998.