The Gild of Freemen of the City of York

SOME FAMOUS HONORARY FREEMEN (in date order)


Professor Sir Ronald Cooke - 2006
Professor Cooke was Vice-Chancellor of the University of York from 1993 to 2002 and still lives in the city. A specialist in desert geomorphology with a particular interest in human use of the natural environment, he was president of the Royal Geographic Society from 2000 to 2003. He was awarded the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographic Society in 1994 for his contributions to geomorphology. He is also a member of the Higher Education Funding Council for England for seven years until 2003 and was knighted for services to higher education in January 2002.
The nomination was put to the council by the Gild of Freemen of the City of York, nominated at a meeting of the council by Councillor Stephen Galloway and seconded by the Deputy Leader of the Council, Councillor Andrew Waller.
The Town Clerk, David Atkinson, the council's Chief Executive, officiated and the Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of York, Councillor Janet Greenwood, presented Professor Sir Ron with a specially designed vellum scroll at the ceremony.


Berwick Kaler - 2003
Berwick Kaler has appeared in a host of well known TV programmes including Taggart, A Touch of Frost, Auf Weidersehen Pet, Crocodile Shoes, Casualty and Heartbeat. He has also performed in West End productions and films. But it is his work at the York Theatre Royal, as the outrageous dame in the annual pantomime, for which he is best known in York. On receipt of his honorary Freedom of the City Berwick said:
“In this age of television, DVDs, and the world wide web etc, it is refreshing that my work in our local theatre should be recognised as worthy of such a great honour.”
“It’s the most stunning thing that’s happened to me. For a Wearsider – a foreigner, it’s better than a Knighthood. I’m really getting it for giving people a laugh and I feel quite uncomfortable about getting rewarded for just doing my job.”


Dame Judi Dench - 2002
Dame Judi, originally from Heworth, was voted York's 'living great' of the Millennium by the people of York in 1999. And in one recent national one poll she was voted as one of the country's most popular women - second only to the Queen.
Highly-accomplished Dame Judi, who was made an OBE in 1970 and then a DBE in 1988, has spent her career picking up British and international awards for her performances on stage, film and the small screen. She is also a highly-rated narrator.
Dame Judi is one of the country's leading figures on the stage but the versatile actor also has a string of television and cinema hits to her credit including the films A Room With a View, Mrs Brown, Chocolat and The Shipping News. She has also played the role of spy boss 'M' in the last three James Bond movies - her link to fellow Honorary Freeman of York, Dr John Barry.
Dame Judi said of the honour:
" I'm delighted to be here today among so many friends for this very special occasion and I feel very honoured to have been given the Freedom of the City. I don't get to York as often as I would like, in spite of having family here, but it is very much my home.”
" I would like to thank the Lord Mayor and the council and everyone involved in arranging this happy occasion - and I would also like to thank Peter Stanhope for instigating this honour for Dr. John Barry and for me, and for his perseverance."


Dr John Barry - 2002
John Barry has composed much of the Bond music over the 40-year series. During the 60's he scored such diverse movies Born Free, The Ipcress File, The Lion in Winter, and numerous others. As the 70's, 80's, and 90's rolled around Barry became even more diverse, scoring movies ranging from big budget epics like Dances With Wolves to little films like The Dove, from popular hits like Peggy Sue Got Married to blockbuster bombs like Howard the Duck, as well as continuing to score many of the Bond movies. Barry enthusiasts can never be sure of what his next project will be, because there is no "typical" Barry movie.
Barry currently lives in Oyster Bay outside of New York City with his wife, Laurie.


The Duchess of Kent - 1989


Edna Crichton - 1955
York's first woman Lord Mayor.


The Princess Royal - 1952
The first woman to take up the Honorary Freedom.


John Moore - 1687
On 29 September 1687, a Moor was given the freedom of the city of York. He is listed in the freemen's roll as 'John Moore - blacke'. He is sometimes referred to as 'Johannes' Moore.
John Moore appears to have been a fairly wealthy member of the York community. He was in a position to pay the requisite amount of money to the mayor to enjoy all the privileges of the freedom of the city.
Moore was something of an exception, as no other Black man or woman has been found to date in the York rolls.


John Kendal - 1482
Secretary to King Richard III, and the first person to receive the Honorary Freedom of the city of York.


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