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freedom of the city (uncountable)

  1. (historical) The rights and privileges enjoyed by the freemen of medieval cities (their "citizens"), but not by outsiders, bondsmen, or others.
    Retail sales in London were restricted to those with the freedom of the city until the 1850s.
  2. An honor bestowed by certain cities, towns, and (Britain) local councils, including those of rural counties.
    No, your freedom of the city doesn't allow you to ignore traffic fines or drive sheep through rush-hour traffic.
    • 2012 September 5, Steven Brocklehurst, "Who, What, Why: Does Freedom of the City Allow You to Graze Sheep?" in the BBC Magazine:
      So what use is being given the freedom of the city?... The 1973 Local Government Act in Scotland allows for persons of distinction to be made "honorary freemen" in a council area. It helpfully adds that the title does not confer any rights or privileges and specifically rules out "grazing rights". The equivalent act of Parliament in England and Wales also stresses that this is a purely "honorary" title, although it does not feel it necessary to rule out grazing sheep.


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