The Honorary Freedom of Bolton is the highest honour that the town can bestow and is reserved for those individuals who have given exceptional service to the borough or to the nation.

It has also been awarded to those units of the armed forces who have had a long-standing connection with Bolton, in recognition of their service and many sacrifices.

The presentation takes the form of a unique silver casket containing an illuminated scroll.


Freedom of the County Borough of Bolton:

William Nicholson (1825-1915) - Mayor of Bolton: 1891-94, 1898, 1898-99, 1901.

Admitted: 6 September 1899

William Walter Cannon (1822-1903) - Mayor of Bolton: 1871-73.

Admitted: 6 September 1899

The Right Honourable Viscount Leverhulme (1851-1925) - Mayor of Bolton: 1918-19.

Admitted: 10 November 1902

John Pennington Thomasson (1841-1904) - Philanthropist, MP for Bolton 1880-85, gave Mere Hall and park (now Bolton Register Office) to town.

Admitted: 10 November 1902

Thomas Wilkinson (1826-1916) - Philanthropist, gave his house on Belmont Road to be used as Wilkinson Sanatorium.

Admitted: 6 July 1910

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) - US indusrialist and philanthropist, donated five library buildings in the current borough.

Admitted: 29 September 1910

Edmund Aspinall (1858-1940) - Mayor of Bolton: 1923-24.

Admitted: 21 October 1925

Colonel George Hesketh (1852-1930) - Mayor of Bolton: 1905-06.

Admitted: 25 July 1927

John Percy Taylor (1868 - 1945) - Mayor of Bolton: 1934-35.

Admitted: 11 October 1938

Field Marshal the Viscount Montgomery of Alamein (1887-1976) - British soldier.

Admitted: 5 November 1949

James William Wigglesworth (1875-1966) - Chemist, generous local benefactor and donor of the Mayoral Jewel.

Admitted: 7 November 1963

Edwin Stowell Gawne (1896-1969) - Long-serving consultant surgeon, Bolton Hospitals 1926-1969.

Admitted: 18 February 1964

253rd Regiment Royal Artillery (The Bolton Artillery) TA

Admitted: 18 April 1964

5th Battalion The Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) TA

Admitted: 18 April 1964

James Vickers (1895-1972) - Mayor of Bolton: 1952-53.

Admitted: 22 March 1966

Stanley Entwistle (1895-1978) - Mayor of Bolton: 1955-56.

Admitted: 8 October 1969

The Officers and Crew of Her Majesty's Ship 'Dido' - HMS Dido was adopted by Bolton during the Second World War.

Admitted: 14 April 1973

Charles Henry Lucas (1901-1987) - Mayor of Bolton: 1965-66

Admitted: 5 June 1973

Thomas Parry Dunning (1893-1973) - Mayor of Bolton: 1951-52

Admitted: 5 June 1973


Freedom of the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton:

Nat Lofthouse (1925-2011) - Much loved professional footballer for Bolton Wanderers and England.

Admitted: 2 December 1989

216 (The Bolton Artillery) Battery, Royal Artillery Volunteers

Admitted: 18 May 1994

Robert Lever Howarth (1927-2021) - Politician, long-serving Councillor and MP for Bolton East 1964-70.

Admitted: 16 June 2001

1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment

Admitted: 14 March 2009


The one that got away...

David Lloyd George, British Prime Minister 1916-1922 and Liberal politician, was invited to be admitted as a Freeman of Bolton in 1919, alongside the Conservative politician (later Prime Minister), Andrew Bonar Law. Bonar Law politely declined the invitation but Lloyd George accepted. The traditional silver Freedom Casket (pictured left) was prepared and his name and citation entered into the book of Freemen. The then Mayor, Lord Leverhulme and the Town Clerk both signed their names to the citation.

Come the appointed day and Lloyd George was 'indisposed'. Attempts to reschedule all fell through and as months passed into years Lloyd George moved from being 'the man who won the War' to a much more controversial and divisive figure, tainted by corruption and scandal. He never received the honour. The unused casket was finally delivered to Bolton by the amazingly patient silversmiths (who stored it for over 25 years) in late 1945, several months after its intended recipient's death. It is now displayed outside the Mayor's Parlour.


Fredom of the Municipal Borough of Farnworth

Victor St Clair Lucas (1893-1963) - Enormously popular and respected family doctor in Farnworth.

Admitted: 21 September 1961

James Stevenson (1887-1963) - Chairman of Farnworth Urban District Council: 1934-36 and Mayor of Farnworth: 1940-41.

Admitted: 21 September 1961

James Albert Dean (1882-1973) - Mayor of Farnworth: 1947-49.

Admitted: 25 April 1968