ABOUT THE PROJECT
This on-line listing of early Dublin freemen is a Dublin City Council project, under the overall direction of Dublin City Librarian, Margaret Hayes, and Dublin City Archivist, Dr. Mary Clark.
The project was researched and developed by genealogist John Grenham for on-line publication by Dublin City Library & Archive in 2011.
If you have a query, or can provide additional information, please contact us.
- What was the Ancient Freedom of Dublin?
- Is the Ancient Freedom of Dublin the same as the modern Honorary Freedom?
- What are the records in this database?
- How did someone become a freeman?
- Which religion did Dublin Freemen belong to?
- What original records are these lists based on?
- What about later years?
- Trouble viewing the original images using PDF
- The ancient freedom of Dublin was instituted in the 13th century and continued until it was abolished under the Representation of the People Act, 1918. "Freedom" was, in effect, citizenship: freemen had the right to vote, were exempt from many tolls and taxes, were subject to the laws of Dublin and had the duty to take up arms to defend the city when it was under attack.
- No, the modern Honorary Freedom of Dublin was instituted in 1876 and is still conferred today. It is a grant of honorary citizenship and is the highest tribute in the city's gift.
- o These records are a list of all those admitted to the freedom of Dublin by the civic governing body, the Dublin City Assembly. The records cover the period from 1461 to 1491, and 1564 to 1774. Admissions to freedom took place at the quarterly meetings of the City Assembly, held at Christmas, Easter, Midsummer and Michaelmas (29 September). There are 23,257 records from the Thrift Index and 1,914 records from the 'beseeches' in total. For more information on the nature of these records, see "What original records are these lists based on?" below.
- By far the most common method was by completing an apprenticeship in one of the Dublin trade guilds. Almost half of the records show this kind of admission, by service, which is entered in the records as 'S'.
In addition, one could become a freeman by:
- 1. Birth b. sons (and sometimes daughters) of freemen were eligible;
- 2. Marriage m. sons-in-law of freemen were eligible;
- 3. Fine f. or "ff" payment of a hefty fee could secure admission;
- 4. Grace Especial sp. gr. or G.E. or Gr. - the assembly could confer freedom as an honour. This was usually conferred on the incoming Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, often recorded on a parchment in a gold freedom box. However, people who were not members of a trade guild also applied for the freedom under Grace Especial e.g. lawyers, clergymen - so not every entry under this category will be honorific.
- 5. Act of Parliament A.P. This Act was passed in 1662 to assist Protestant immigration, especially of Huguenots from France. Quakers from England also applied for freedom under this category.
- 6. Gloves - GL or Gloves. - instead of paying a fee, applicants could present a pair of gloves to the Lord Mayor's wife, the Lady Mayoress.
- This varied over the centuries, as follows:
- Before the Reformation, all applicants were members of the Roman Catholic Church.
- During the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603) both Roman Catholics and Protestants could obtain the freedom of Dublin.
- Between 1603 and 1685, all applicants for the freedom of Dublin had to take the Oath of Supremacy i.e. acknowledging the king as head of the church. This effectively excluded Roman Catholics.
- During the reign of the Roman Catholic James II between 1685 and 1690, both Roman Catholics and Protestants could obtain the freedom of Dublin, as long as they swore allegiance to the king
- The defeat of James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and the introduction of Penal Laws meant that applicants for the Dublin freedom had to take the Oath of Supremacy. This effectively excluded Roman Catholics and also dissenters, such as Presbyterians. From 1690 until 1841, holders of the freedom of Dublin were members of the established protestant church, the Church of Ireland.
These lists are based on
- Thrift transcripts: In 1919, the genealogist Gertrude Thrift prepared typed transcripts of the original freedom registers in the Dublin City Archives.
- 'Beseeches': these are original applications from individuals for admission to the freedom of Dublin. Beseeches often contain information not included in the original freedom registers, including the applicant's address. This on-line database contains information from all surviving beseeches for the period to 1774 with a corresponding image for each beseech.
- Original registers for the Freedom of Dublin are held in Dublin City Archives for the period 1774-1918. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org