Jack’s the newest - and youngest - recruit to historic Durham group

Jack Elliott, second left, with his grandfather Bob, sister Beth and dad John. Pic: Geoff Kitson.
Jack Elliott, second left, with his grandfather Bob, sister Beth and dad John. Pic: Geoff Kitson.
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An A-Level student is set to become one of the youngest freeman in Britain today.

But 18-year-old Jack Elliott will not have the honour of holding the first place title, as his sister Beth beat him to it by just 16 days.

Jack Elliott, his sister Beth and dad John. Pic: Geoff Kitson.

Jack Elliott, his sister Beth and dad John. Pic: Geoff Kitson.

Jack, from Great Lumley, will be sworn in at a ceremony at Durham’s Guildhall today after he applied to become a member of the city’s Mason’s Company just after his birthday last year.

He will follow in the footsteps of Beth, father John, a senior manager with Northern Power Grid, and paternal grandfather Bob, the warden of the company.

The process, which requires his name to be called, without objection, at Guild Day on three occasions before he could be formally admitted 227 days later.

Beth, who fired off her application immediately after her 18th birthday in 2014 while still at school, took the oath of allegiance 211 days later.

We have always quite competitive and while I was mildly disappointed to miss out but content the title appears to be staying in the family for the foreseeable future.

Jack Elliott

Jack, who is studying biology, chemistry and maths at Park View School in Chester-le-Street and hopes to take up a career in research laboratories in the pharmaceutical industry, said: “We have always been quite competitive and while I was mildly disappointed to miss out but content the title appears to be staying in the family for the foreseeable future.”

This summer Jack will join a scientific survey team in the rain forests of Honduras examining the habits of bats and other small mammals.

A second week will be spent scuba diving surveying marine life off the country’s coast.

“Living in the rain forest without running water and most of comforts of home will be quite a challenge but I am really looking forward to the whole experience,” he said.

Beth was a pupil at the same school until the summer of 2015 before she left to take up a place at Leicester University on a five-year course reading medicine with plans to become a doctor.

Today’s ceremony will be let by mayor of Durham, Eddie Bell, in the Guildhall in the Market Place.

The Freemen of Durham today has eight trade guilds or companies, but once had 16.

The remaining guilds are the Barbers, Butchers, Cordwainers, Curriers, Drapers, Joiners, Masons and Plumbers.

The oldest recorded, now defunct, was the Weavers Guild whose records go back to 1450 but it is believed that some guilds could have been a hundred years older.

Qualification for admission as a freeman of a trade company is achieved either by “patrimony” or by “servitude”, so by being the son, as a rule the eldest son, of a freeman, or by serving an apprenticeship, usually of seven years, to a freeman working at the trade of their guild.

In 2012, the Freemen changed its rules to admit women, taking its membership level to a new high.