The Sudbury Freemen’s Society, of which all the town’s freemen are automatically members, is one of the most active bodies of its kind in East Anglia. It was revived in 1972, at first as a reconstitution of the Freemen’s Protection Society set up in the 1890’s but, five years later at the quinquennial meeting, it adopted the present name.
Links with Sudbury Town Council were established and the freemen were given the right to use the Borough Arms which now appear on the freemen’s tie. The motif on the tie was the work of one of the freemen, Mr. Edward Filer. The background chosen by the freemen for the locally-woven silk is the nearest available shade to the mulberry, used for the gown of a Sudbury burgess in the early 16th century.
The Freemen’s Society volunteered to provide honorary macebearers for the Mayor; a service that has been faithfully carried out at civic events such as the election of the Town Mayor, the Civic Service and at the Remembrance Day parade and service. Mace bearers have attended civic funerals in the town and have been present at special events such as ‘Suffolk Day’ and have also commemorated notable anniversaries for the Sudbury Municipal Charities such as the 350th anniversary of Nathaniel King’s bequest to the town on Ascension Day, May 10th 2018.
With the Sudbury freemen still in existence in their tenth recorded century, it was felt not only important to embrace the 21st century with the creation of a website that would reach out to more families who may be able to trace their descent from forebears who were freemen but also to promote the history and public service of an organisation that has been described as ‘Sudbury’s best kept secret’.
Building the website would have been impossible without considerable support and help and we would like to thank the following people and organisations in Sudbury:
The staff at the Town Hall in Sudbury Sudbury Town Council, the Sudbury Ephemera Archive, Sudbury Museum Trust and the Historic Photo Archive, the Friends’ of St. Peter’s, the Suffolk Free Press, the Sudbury Grammar School Old Boys’ Association, Adrian Walters of the Sudbury Common Lands Charity, Helen Richardson from the Suffolk Family History Society for her help with tracing freemen’s headstones in Sudbury Cemetery and local churches and the members of the Sudbury Freemen’s Society who have kindly contributed material for the website. We are particularly grateful to Margaret Seager for the gift of many local history books and to David Burnett and Roger Green for their help with sourcing images and information. The website would not have been possible without the scholarship of Allan W. Berry and Anthony R. Wheeler.
The website has been funded by the Sudbury Freemen’s Trust with help from Jean Moscrop.
You may also be interested in a link to the Freemen of England and Wales.http://www.freemen-few.org.uk