Freeman of the City

What is a Freeman of the City?

An honour bestowed by a municipality upon a valued member of the community, or upon a visiting celebrity or dignitary. Arising from the medieval practice of granting respected citizens freedom from serfdom, the tradition still lives on in countries such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand – although today the title of "freeman" confers no special privileges. 

Honorary Freeman Don F Miguel OAM JP (dec)

Don Miguel (DOB 8.3.1930 – 15.6.2018) served the Cockburn community as a Councillor and Mayor from 1965 until 1993. His tenure began when Cockburn was still part of Fremantle Roads Board, through its evolution to a shire, a town, and later to a city. He became inaugural Mayor of the City of Cockburn when the former town, of which he was also Mayor, attained city status on October 26 1979. Don was Mayor for 14 years, successfully contesting an annual vote by his fellow Elected Members, and retained this position until he retired from Council in 1993. He previously spent seven years as Deputy Mayor.

On 15 May 1984, Mr Miguel was named Honorary Freeman of the City in recognition of his dedicated service to the Cockburn district.

A fitter and turner by trade, he is a descendent of Angel de San Miguel, an orphan believed raised by Benedictine Monks. With Bishop Salvado, he arrived in Fremantle as a 21 year old in 1869 from Vittoria, Spain on a passenger ship called Robert Morrison. According to WA Museum records, Angel came to WA to work as a stonemason at New Norcia, but he soon left the Benedictine Monastery to work in Fremantle and Guildford before settling on a 100 acre grant at a Cockburn Sound location named Hope Valley. He married Mary (Green) Postans, the daughter of neighbouring settlers George Samuel Postans and Harriet (Lewington) Postans.

Don grew up in Beaconsfield and Fremantle but spent countless hours at his mother’s Hope Valley farm. He was ably supported in his dedication to civic duty by his wife June, also a highly respected member of the Cockburn community.

Cockburn has bestowed the rare honour of Freeman five times in its history. The honour recognises local nominees who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and commitment by making an extensive and distinguished contribution to the community, beyond local government activities, for a significant period of time.

Honorary Freeman Ray A Lees (dec)

Ray Lees (DOB 11.12.1928 – 15.10.2014) dedicated 27 years of service to the City of Cockburn as both a Councillor and Mayor. Over that time, he played a significant role in shaping the City. 

Ray was first elected councillor of the South Ward in 1973, when Cockburn was still a town. He served as Deputy Mayor from 1988-1989 and in 1992. In 1993, he succeeded Don Miguel to become the City’s second Mayor. His tenure as Mayor lasted four years until 1997, and he continued to serve as a Councillor until 2000. His South Ward seat was never contested.

In 1995 he was named a Freeman of the City, the council’s highest honour.  

Ray’s connection to the district began when he was born at Hillcrest Hospital in North Fremantle on 11 December, 1928. Growing up, Ray was known for his strong spirit and independence. He left school at the age of 14 to deliver ice by horse and cart and during the Second World War he falsified his age to deliver supplies to troops by ship.

Ray worked on the Fremantle waterfront from 1952 until his retirement in 1990. He was also a prolific servant of the community – sitting on the Board of the Central Bush Fire brigade, serving as a patron of the Returned Services League in Hamilton Hill, and serving as a Justice of the Peace.

Ray was supported by his wife, Rose, whom he met at the Perth Royal Show. After marrying, the pair bought a half acre block in Hamilton Hill Later, where they worked a small market garden. In 1974, they moved to a five acre property in Wattleup.

Amongst Ray’s many achievements on the Council were opening the Kwinana Freeway extension through Cockburn and helping to develop the South Coogee and Jandakot bush fire brigades. 

Previously named Freeman of the City

  • Mayor Ray Lees, JP, (dec)
  • Councillor Wally Hagan, OAM, JP, (dec)
  • Mayor Alan Thomas, JP, (dec)
  • Mayor Joseph (Joe) Cooper, JP (dec).



City of Cockburn
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Western Australia, 6965

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Cockburn Nyungar moort Beeliar boodja-k kaadadjiny. Koora, yeyi, benang baalap nidja boodja-k kaaradjiny.
Ngalak kaditj boodjar kep wer kaadidjiny kalyakool yoodaniny, wer koora wer yeyi ngalak Birdiya koota-djinanginy.

City of Cockburn acknowledges the Nyungar people of Beeliar boodja. Long ago, now and in the future they care for Country.
We acknowledge a continuing connection to land, waters and culture and pay our respects to the Elders, past and present.