Members past and present

Stories of Sudbury’s freemen from the past when the freedom was either inherited, purchased or obtained by apprenticeship show that they came from all sorts of professions; the freedom itself was, as Allan Berry notes, “a very egalitarian institution: gentlemen and labourers, clergymen and innkeepers, artisans and surgeons, shopkeepers and soldiers, jostle for admission.”

Most freemen were respectable but some, such as William Hayward Vincent, found themselves in gaol. Many were very poor and struggled to keep their families out of the Workhouse. In the 20th century, with the revival of the Sudbury Freemen’s Society in 1972 and the establishment of the Sudbury Freemen’s Trust in 1986, much research has been carried out into the history of the freedom and the freemen have done their best to serve the town and community of Sudbury through welfare, conservation and amenity.

Many of the stories about individual Sudbury freemen have been forgotten and it is hoped that this section of the website will engage people with the history of a very special institution.

Percy Walter Filbee Alston

Mayor of Sudbury, Honorary Freeman of Sudbury, freemason and local businessman

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The Amey Family

A chance discovery in an old wooden box unravels some of the history of the Amey Freemen of Sudbury

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George William Andrews

Freeman of Sudbury, Mayor 7 times and inspiration for Dickens as 'Little Mr. Perker'

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Allan W Berry MA

Sudbury Historian and Learned Clerk of the Freemen

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Samuel Brown

The Victorian Sudbury Freeman who spent much of his wealth on the local churches

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John Clark

Freeman of Sudbury, landlord of The White Horse and a fine judge of wines and spirits

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Thomas Gainsborough

Artist and Freeman of Sudbury

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Sir George Murray Humphry, M.D., F.R.S.

Surgeon. anatomist, and physiologist and Honorary Freeman of Sudbury

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Joseph Humphry

A really remarkable man - Mayor of Sudbury five times between 1787 and 1807 and Freeman of the town

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William Lillie

Freeman of Sudbury: a man of great integrity and piety

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Charles Parsonson

Head of a famous family of basket weavers and Freeman of Sudbury

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George William Parsonson

The story of the Edgworth Road garden in Sudbury

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John Parsonson

A brazier who left his native town in search of work but came home and took up the Freedom

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Thomas and Joseph Parsonson

Father and son who continued the family tradition of basket weaving in Sudbury

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Samuel Scott

Freeman of Sudbury, sexton and gravedigger at St. Gregory's Church

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Peter Sidney Smith

Freeman of Sudbury and office-holder within its Trust and Society, and local businessman

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John and Stephen Tolliday

A Freeman balloted into the Militia during the Napoleonic Wars and a son who loved to ring and chime

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Felix and Arthur Tolliday

Ringers and chimers, silk weavers and Freemen of Sudbury

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William Hayward Vincent

A very unlucky Sudbury Freeman

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Anthony Reay Wheeler

Freeman of Sudbury, local historian, Elder of the United Reformed Church, Sudbury

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