Joining the Company

There are a number of stages to being admitted as a Liveryman of the Company. Initially, candidates have to be eligible for admission to the Freedom by one of various methods set out below.

  • Eligible candidates are admitted to the Freedom of the Company at the end of their interview and briefing, in a special ceremony.
  • The candidate must then take that Freedom to the Guildhall and obtain the Freedom of the City of London, unless he or she is already a City Freeman.
  • Once the Freedom of the City is obtained, the candidate is then eligible to be admitted as a Liveryman of the Company.

The Freedom

There are three main methods whereby a candidate may be eligible for entry into the Company as a Freeman:

  • Patrimony: Sons and daughters of Liverymen of the Company, born after their parent’s admission to the Freedom, may join the Company by right, providing that they have reached the age of 21. There is a limit of one admission by patrimony per year.
  • Redemption: This is the main entry route.  Candidates must be proposed by a Liveryman of at least two years standing and seconded by a member of the Court, who must both have known the candidate for at least two years.  Candidates should also have attended a Company function prior to seeking the Livery.  This process may be simplified where the Industry Committee recommends a potential Liveryman to the Court. Entry is not guaranteed.
  • Presentation: This is where a potential candidate is a Chief Executive of at least one years’ standing of one of the specified trade associations and educational bodies with whom the Company or its Liverymen have close connections (or other persons at the rare discretion of the Court). There is a similar entry procedure to that by Redemption (and technically it is Redemption) but subject to certain concessions.

The candidate (whether receiving the Livery by Patrimony, Redemption or Presentation) is required to submit an application form to the Clerk, along with a cheque for the Freedom fine. The form is then circulated to the Court and, provided there is no objection, the candidate (save one who is being admitted by presentation) is invited for interview by the Middle Warden. At the end of the interview (which includes a briefing about the company, given by the Master and the Wardens) the candidate is admitted the Freedom of the Company in a short ceremony.

There are two other exceptional categories of Company Freemen, namely:

  • Honorary Freemen
  • Corporate Sponsored Freemen

The Freedom of the City

Except where the candidate is already a Freeman, the candidate must apply for the Freedom of the City of London. The candidate applies to the Chamberlain’s Court (Admissions Room) at the Guildhall. For candidates who live within 50 miles of London, two attendances in person are required at the City Freedom Office and a prior appointment must be made on each occasion by telephoning 020 7332 1008/1369/3005. [For candidates who live more than 50 miles from London, the first attendance can be obviated pursuant to a prescribed form].

On the first occasion, the candidate must produce:

  • A copy of their Company Freeman Certificate
  • Their full Birth Certificate (NB the shortened version will not suffice)
  • The fee (currently £100)

On the second occasion, the candidate will be granted the City Freedom at a simple ceremony.

The Livery

Having attained the Freedom of the Company and the Freedom of the City of London, the candidate is then eligible to be admitted as a Liveryman. The Clerk writes to the candidate inviting him or her to a livery ceremony (which takes place at a Court meeting) and, at the same time, requests payment of the livery fine. Other than the June court meeting, the candidate is invited to attend a subsequent function that follows the meeting as a guest of the Court. Once admitted to the Livery, Candidates will be required to pay annual quarterage in order to be eligible to attend Company functions, which is collected by direct debit in two equal instalments in December and June of each year. Quarterage generally increases annually in line with inflation. Liverymen are also expected to contribute to the Distillers’ Charity.

Corporate Freemen

This simplified method of entry is for senior industry figures, sponsored by their company, to take the Company Freedom and join in the events of the Livery. Companies that become Corporate Associates may have three executives as their Corporate Freemen at any one time. The arrangement usually lasts for three years and may be renewed for one further term. Corporate Freemen may proceed at any time during their term to take the City Freedom and then Livery, making way for a further company executive to take their place.