My earlier articles about John Hamilton Hall, born in Coldstream on 22nd October 1799 were John Hamilton Hall - Dangerously Assumed to be Unique and John Hamilton Hall's Application to Join the East India Company.
I gave a talk about him in Berwick-upon-Tweed about 6 weeks ago and was asked lots of questions.
By a strange but happy coincidence, Linda Bankier, the archivist at Berwick Record Office informed me a few weeks later that one of John’s great great granddaughters was going to be admitted as a Freeman of Berwick Guild and she suggested that I go along to watch. It turns out that the Admission Ceremony is open for anyone to attend and it’s normal for the applicants’ family and friends to do so.
When I arrived at the Guildhall, I was greeted by the Halberdier dressed in a serge morning-suit; the applicants were having a walk-through of the ceremony so on his instruction I waited in the ante-chamber where the Chairman of the Guild was being enrobed.
The Ceremony is formal but friendly.
We stood. The Sergeant at Mace entered, bearing the Mace and was followed by the female Mayor wearing a suit of the same colour as the Halberdier and an ornate gold chain around her neck. She was accompanied by the Sheriff and the Town Clerk.
There was a speech by the Mayor, each of the 3 applicants stated their claim, the Town Clerk confirmed that the claim had been verified and the applicants' sponsor confirmed the identity of the applicant.
Each of the applicants, in turn claimant, took the Freemen's Oath, to uphold the law, the traditions of the Guild and take care of fellow Freemen's belongings.
The Mayor told the Town Clerk to enter the applicants' names in the Freemen's Roll and the applicants signed the book.
The Mayor and the Sheriff each addressed the meeting and the Chairman of the Guild welcomed the new Freemen, clothing them with the purple robes of a Berwick Freeman.
After the ceremony, there was lots of photography.
If you get the opportunity, it’s worth watching; the next ceremony is on 30th September.
More information on the Berwick Guild and the ceremony.