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The conferment of the honorary freedom of a borough or city has been established since 1885 as the highest honour which the local authority can bestow. Historically, it had not always been treated with such reverence, and until the Municipal Corporations Act, 1835, put an end to the practice, it had been possible to appoint honorary freemen for less noble reasons, not least of which might have been the future disposition of their vote at elections.
On the other hand, the freedom of a borough had been conferred on people of eminence in those times, as for instance in 1759 to the Right Honourable William Pitt (the Elder) "in acknowledgement of the many signal benefits which His Majesty and the Kingdom have reaped under his Wise, Vigorous and well concerted Administration".
The conferment of the honorary freedom of a city is currently empowered by Section 249 of the Local Government Act, 1972. In the case of Amber Valley it has been conferred sparingly.
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