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File:War Memorial to London's Liverymen.jpg
War Memorial to London's Liverymen lost in WW1 (on Stationers Hall, west of Paternoster Square)

For Livery Companies in the City of London, a Liveryman is a full member of their respective Company.

Livery Company members fall into two basic categories: Freemen and Liverymen. One may join as a Freeman, and thereby acquire the "Freedom of the Company", upon fulfilling the Company's criteria. A traditional mode of entry is to be admitted by "patrimony", in the case of either parent being a member of the company, by "servitude" if one has served as an Apprentice in the trade for a requisite number of years, or by "Redemption" on induction and payment of a "fine". The Company may also admit eminent individuals as Honorary Freemen.

The term 'Livery' originated in the specific form of dress worn to retainers of a nobleman and then by extension to special dress to denote status of belonging to a trade. When a Freeman becomes a Liveryman the candidate is said to be 'enclothed', indeed a 'Livery Gown' is placed on them at the Court and they are seen at the next formal or social occasion wearing it. Thereafter only the Master, Wardens and Assistants in Companies are seen wearing these at Company events. The Masters wear them at the City's formal events, e.g. the two Common Halls and the United Guilds Service, and Lord Mayor's Show, wherever they may participate. Ordinarily Liverymen wear ties at formal functions and each Company differs by allowing women to wear distinct items subject to occasion, such as a scarf or brooch.

Freemen are expected to advance to become liverymen by a vote of the Court of the Company. Liverymen no longer have any local authority franchise in the City, but retain the exclusive right of voting in the election of the Lord Mayor of the City of London (Michaelmas 'Common Hall' 29 September) and for the Sheriffs (Mid-Summer 'Common Hall' 24 June) held in Guildhall as a ceremonial occasion. The votes are made by 'acclamation' subject to a challenge/demand from the floor for a ballot which would be held a week later. Any two Liverymen may nominate a candidate for the Freedom of the City.

Former Parliamentary Election Rights

Before the Reform Act 1832 the liverymen had the exclusive right to elect the four Members of Parliament representing the City. Between 1832 and 1918 being a Liveryman was one of a number of possible franchises which could qualify a Parliamentary elector in the City of London (UK Parliament constituency), as it was a preserved ancient borough franchise under the terms of the 1832 Act. See also City of London (elections to the Parliament of England) for further details of the history of the involvement of Liverymen in Parliamentary elections.


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