The conferring of the title of Honorary Freeman is the highest honour that a Council can bestow and it is a mark of distinction upon the person whom the Council wishes to honour. Although the Freedom itself carries no special privileges and is purely an honour it reflects the eminence of the person on whom it is conferred and is a recognition of the significant and valuable services rendered to the town.
Shaftesbury Town Council enrolled the first Honorary Freeman for the town in October 1905, to Edward Doran Webb, F.S.A. a well renowned architect who designed St Edwards church.
The list of Honorary Freemen in Shaftesbury are;
1921 – Reverend John Alfred Sharp, D.D.
1929 – Sir Thomas Jeeves Horder, Bart, K.C.V.O., B.Sc., M.D., F.R.C.P., M.R.C.S.
1932 – Charles Henry Fovey, M.A., LL.D.
1935 – Robert William Borley, J.P., C.C.
1945 – Ralph Pearson
1966 – John Douglas Chesterfield
1966 – Percy Williams
1971 – William Farley Rutter
1983 – Dr F.J.Powell
1987 – Reverend Father Jeanneau
1998 – John Norman Arkell, D.S.C
1998 – Thomas Arthur Codery
1998 – Gordon Eric Hine
1998 – Dr Geoffrey William Tapper
2005 – Rachel Stuart Caldwell, B.Sc.
2010 – Raymond John Humphries
2010 – Christina Phyllis Humphries
2012 – Derek Leslie Beer
2012 – Joseph Merefield
2012 – John C.Parker
2012 – Denise Mary Potter
2019 – Mervyn Jeffery
The title of honorary freemen is the highest honour that is within the power of the town council to bestow. The title of freeman is very ancient and has origins in the historic Saxon, Danish and Norman feudal systems.
The title of freeman as we would now understand, began to come into existence in 1885 when an act of parliament authorised the grant of the title of honorary freeman to persons of distinction who had rendered eminent service to the town or borough.
It was the Local Government Act in 1972 that gave the council the power it uses today to admit persons of distinction and persons who have in the opinion of the council rendered eminent services to the town as honorary freemen.