For almost seven centuries, the Freemen of Llantrisant have played an invaluable role in the history of this ancient town.
The freedom arose from the Charter of 1346, which identified a community of freemen or burgesses who gathered a range of privileges giving them a measure of self government, their own courts of law and control over markets and fairs.
These rights, together with corporate status and their grazing privileges on the Common, combined to provide a rich and complex definition of their freedom. Originally the Freedom of Llantrisant could be gained from father to son, by servitude to a Freeman's apprentice, or as an honorary title to the gentry or local clergy. It could also be passed to a son-in-law, making them a 'petticoat Freeman'.
We have no evidence of the original Freemen as no manuscripts exist from that period but we can be certain that many of today's Freemen were related to them.
The Municipal Corporations Act of 1883 transferred local government from the Freemen's Corporation to local councils. However, the Freedom was maintained in Llantrisant due to its property and charitable functions. The Charity Commission allowed for the establishment of Llantrisant Town Trust in 1889 to protect the Freeman's lands and rights.
Today the status of a Freeman has been legally defined as being aged twenty one and either the son or grandson of a freeman or married to a freeman’s daughter.
The tradition of the Freemen of Llantrisant is a proud and noble one. With more than 2,000 Freemen around the world today, five times more than when the Llantrisant Town Trust was formed in 1889, it continues to gain strength despite the passing of the ages.