The tradition of Freemen goes back many centuries, when the citizens of towns and cities would be granted valuable rights to trade, and other privileges conceded by royal charters.
The system was also shared by Livery Companies, associations of craftsmen developed to control the admission to the trade by apprenticeship, and founded on the triple bases of commerce, benevolence and religion.
From mediaeval times the City of London worked together with Livery Companies to control acceptance of Freemen. However in the nineteenth century it became possible for people to apply for the Freedom of the City of London without belonging to a Livery Company, and this created the need for an organisation to which all Freemen could belong to pursue the interests of the City.
This led to the foundation, in 1908, of the Guild of Freemen of the City of London, to bring together free men and women, for the purposes of charity, benevolence, education and social interaction.