Page last updated at 12:34 GMT, Thursday, 30 October 2008

Ancient body admits first women

The Domesday Book
The Freemen are mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1085

An ancient civic body is to admit women as members for the first time in its 1,000-year history.

The Freemen of the City of Oxford are thought to have formed in Saxon times and were recorded in the Domesday Book.

The price of becoming a freeman was 5. Only Freemen could set up business and vote in council elections.

Chairman Howard Crapper said the admission of women was "history taking a step forward" which will be marked with a special ceremony.

Mr Crapper said: "This is a momentous occasion.

"The custom of the Freemen dating over 1,000 years was to admit the merchant breadwinners as Freemen.

"Today, women are equal breadwinners and our Admission Order has been amended and agreed by the Privy Council."

The Oxford Freemen who are made up of about 250 men, now expect to admit 12 women at a ceremony later.

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