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Progression through the Livery Companies remains much the same as it has been for centuries and the Company is carrying on those traditions. The first step in progression is to become a Freeman of the Company. When the Company was granted Company without Livery status on the 21st October 2003 all members of the Company automatically became known as "Freemen of the Company" to reflect their new status in accordance with the Livery traditions of the City.
One may become a freeman, or acquire the "freedom of the company", upon fulfilling certain criteria: traditionally, by "patrimony", if either parent were a liveryman of the company; by "servitude", if one has served a requisite number of years as an apprentice to a senior company member; or by "redemption", upon paying a fee. Freemen may advance to become liverymen, after obtaining the freedom of the City of London, and with their Court of Assistants' approval. Only liverymen are eligible to vote in the annual election of the Lord Mayor of London, the Sheriffs and various other City civic offices, including the Ale Conners and Bridge Masters.
In order to become a recognized Freeman of the Company everyone joining must make a ‘Declaration’. The Declaration is read aloud from a printed sheet and covers such matters as promising to keep the laws and rules and helping and furthering the good government of the Company. Following the Declaration each Freeman is issued with a certificate as proof of admission and will be "fined" (a one-off payment) as each person becomes a Freeman by "Redemption" (the Freedom is purchased). This certificate can then be used as proof of admission as a Freeman of the Company and can be taken to the Chamberlain's Court of the Corporation of London when an application is made for Freedom of the City, which is the next step in progression through the Company. The current Freedom Fine agreed by the Court is £200 with a reduction of 50% for Associate members.
A member of the Company can only be considered for Liveryman when he or she is both Free of the Company and the City.
Here is a copy of the Company's Freedom Declaration which new Freemen are required to read out in front of the Master at the Freedom Ceremony
“I ………….(state your full name) do solemnly and sincerely declare that I will be true to Queen Elizabeth II and be obedient to the Master and Wardens of this Company in all lawful manner. I will keep secret all the lawful counsel of this Fellowship. I will well and truly observe and keep all By-Laws, Rules and Ordinances made or that hereafter shall be lawfully made and ordained for the good ordering of the Company and I will adhere to the Principles for Good Business Conduct. I will be willing, helping and furthering to the good government and wealth of the Company and I will not be party or privy to any counsel or device that may be to the hurt or hindrance of the Company or to the overthrowing or breaking of the good laws and ordinances of the same but all such practices, counsels and devices I will disclose to the Master and Wardens of the Company and them labour to hinder and break so much as in me lieth. And I make this solemn declaration conscientiously believing the same to be true and by virtue of the provisions of the Promissory Oaths Act 1868”