Dover has one of the oldest established privileges of Freedom dating to before the Norman Conquest. A Freeman of Dover received special privileges and was a powerful and influential man. Only Freemen had jurisdiction over municipal affairs including the right to elect Mayors and, from 1623, Members of Parliament. Although the right of conducting business was slightly reduced by neglect over the centuries, the other privileges were maintained until 1835, though exemption from market tolls was removed in 1827. The Reform Act of 1832 and the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 ended most of the rights and privileges of Freemanship, although many ancient freemen families continued to claim admission to the Rolls as a tradition. By the 1880s the tradition had all but died out and apart from a handful of hereditary admissions, the Rolls fell inactive. An Honorary Freedom Act of 1885 allowed local corporations who applied to bestow lifetime honorary on those that they felt deserved it.
Under Section 249 of the Local Government Act 1972, A Town Council has the power to admit individuals as freemen of the Town. The title is entirely honorary and there are no rights and privileges arising from the award.
Freemen of Dover Today: Mr. Terry Sutton, Mr. Graham Tuthill and Mr. Dick McCarthy