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Eight women to inherit title of hereditary freeman.
Eight women will take their place in Swansea’s history next week thanks to a law
change which means they too can now inherit the title of hereditary
On October 1, 2012, at 11am, Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr June Stanton will carry out a ceremony to present the women with certificates declaring them to be enrolled as hereditary freemen of Swansea.
The move follows a vote by Swansea Council on 29 September last year to allow the admission of both men and women to the hereditary freedom of Swansea after many centuries of it being a male-only preserve.
Admission is now open to the sons and daughters of enrolled hereditary freemen on an equal basis. Swansea now boasts 14 women with the title.
Among those to receive the honour alongside four other family members will be Isla Rosser Owen.
She said: "There have been Freemen of the City of Swansea in our family for many generations, but my father didn't have any sons and so I had always thought it was a shame that we wouldn't be able to continue that family tradition.
"I think it's brilliant that Swansea has opened this up to women now and it's really fantastic to see so many women coming forward to claim the Freedom of the City. It will feel very special to have five women from my family, spanning two generations, all receiving our certificates together.
"It's also very special in this way to be able to maintain a connection to Swansea city, a place that holds a lot of history for our family and a great deal of nostalgia for me."
Josephine Kaye, Isla’s Aunt, will also be receiving the honour.
She was born in Swansea, lived here until she as eight, and returned when she was 16 to do her last two years schooling at Llwyn-y-Bryn (where her mother was a former pupil). She has happy memories of summer holidays here.
She said: "I am looking forward very much to being made a female Hereditary Freeman of Swansea - over the years I have seen my brother, David Rosser Owen, my then husband Derv Kaye and my son, Laurence Kaye, all being made Freemen.
"Now as well as myself I am going to see my two daughters, Olivia and Antonia Kaye and my two nieces, Mariam and Isla Rosser Owen all being admitted on 1st October - what an exciting day for our family.
"It is wonderful to have this honour being extended to the female line as well as the male.”
Being a hereditary freeman of Swansea nowadays carries no rights and privileges with it, beyond the personal satisfaction of having a certificate and your name in a register of freemen dating back to 1790 alongside those of your ancestors.
However, since women were permitted to apply last year, a flood of enquiries has come in from potential women applicants to the County Archivist, who administers the scheme on behalf of Swansea Council.
Kim Collis, County Archivist, said, "It has been really heartening to see the tradition being refreshed by so many women applying for the hereditary freedom of Swansea.
"The custom has survived simply because people wanted it to, despite the fact that nothing of any financial value attaches to it.
"It obviously fulfils a deep-seated need for people to connect their own family history with the history of the city from which they and their ancestors spring.”
Hereditary freedom is an ancient privilege which stretches back to the Middle Ages and the body known as the burgesses of Swansea.
The burgesses enjoyed special rights compared to others living in the town, such as the right to vote at parliamentary elections and the right to stand for public office in the borough.
The burgesses wished to see the number enjoying these rights and privileges kept as low as possible and so protected them by carefully controlling admission to their body, mostly by passing the rights only to their sons and sons-in-law.
All rights and privileges associated with the burgess body were removed under legislation in 1835, but the custom of enrolling hereditary freemen - as they came to be called - has continued to the present day, as it has done in many other ancient boroughs in England and Wales.
The ceremony will take place on October 1st at Swansea Civic Centre at 11am.