Freedom of the City

Edward Revell's certificate of the Freedom of the City of London

Edward Revell’s certificate of the Freedom of the City of London

We had an enquiry last week from the archives at one of London’s ancient livery companies, the Leathersellers’ Company, asking for further details of an item in our catalogue: Edward Revell’s certificate of the Freedom of the City of London. There are two similar documents in the Leathersellers’ Company archives, dating from 1472 and 1488, which appear to be the oldest surviving certificates of their sort. Edward Revell’s certificate – until something earlier shows itself, at least – may be regarded as the third oldest.

As with other certificates of the Freedom of the City, the document bears the name of a Ward of the City of London: Cripplegate, here spelled “Crepulgate”. However, as the text is in Latin, that’s one of the few bits I can actually read!  The others are the names of Edward Revell, his father Thomas Revell, and the man to whom Edward was apprenticed, William Chambers of the Haberdashers’ Company.  The Revell family seat is also mentioned: Cranethwayte, which was also called Carlingthwaite and later became known as Carnfield – site of Carnfield Hall.  As for the rest, we are assured that it is very formulaic – but the word-count is a bit higher because they had to fit in all the titles of Philip & Mary.  As with the examples held at the Leathersellers’ Company, this certificate has clearly spent a long time folded in four – the Company’s archivist says this suggests “that Freemen would carry their certificates about their person like a passport (perhaps inside a small leather pouch), to produce as proof when claiming Freemen’s privileges, such as exemption from market and bridge tolls, etc”.

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