Records relating to freemen and apprentices in Kingston upon Hull



Admin History:

Becoming a freeman and burgess of Kingston upon Hull, like many other towns, was particularly important as it carried some considerable privileges within the borough. The charters of 1299 and 1440 granted the burgesses the right to participate in the election of aldermen as well as the coroner and mayor. These rights and privileges were abolished under the reforms of the 1835 Municipal Corporations Act.

The general definitions of the terms of burgess and freeman are:-


a) A tenant who holds land of the Lord at a fixed rent without the obligation of feudal service.

b) Before the Municipal Corporations Act, they could claim a share of the profits of the city or borough and claim exemptions from tolls.

c) Now an honorary title conferred by a city of corporation.


a) A citizen of a borough having municipal rights

b) A member of parliament for a borough or corporate town

c) They hold office for life, unless they resign or had to be removed for some notable reason. A burgesses-ship conferred other privileges as well as a share in the government of the town; above all it carried the right to set up in a craft or trade, for which non-burgesses were required to pay an annual licence.

In Hull, becoming a freeman or burgess could be achieved by one of two ways; either through patrimony or through apprenticeship, by far the most popular route in the town. This, it has been suggested, shows that many fathers saw the value of apprenticeship for their sons. In addition, across England as a whole, under the Statute of Artificers and Apprentices of 1563, no one was allowed to practice a trade or craft without having served a 7-year period as an apprentice to a master. This was finally abolished in 1814.

Registers of freemen, 1369-1886; Index, 1545-1835; Register of apprentices, 1651-1835; Application for admission, 1707-1832; Stamped admission register, 1730-1835; Administrative papers c18-19 cent.