VIDEO: You can also watch our extended video report, featuring full interviews, on our YouTube video player below or CLICK HERE
In the past the honour came with ancient rights and privileges. They could graze their sheep in public or draw their swords when they liked.
Now it is simply the most important award the town can give and awarded to those who have rendered eminent service to the borough. It still comes with the unisex title making them 'Freemen' of Barnsley.
The town's other famous Freemen have included legendary cricket umpire Dickie Bird, fashion guru Rita Britton, who also attended the latest ceremony, and the late Lord Roy Mason, the town's MP for 30-years and a former Northern Ireland Minister during the troubles of the 1970s.
The borough's two home army regiments - The Light Dragoons and the Yorkshire Regiment - also have the Freedom of the Borough, which means they can parade through the town centre with bayonets fixed and flags flying.
Flying the flag for Barnsley are the latest four citizens all honoured for exceptional service to the borough.
Barnsley born TV presenter Joann Fletcher, aged 49, is an Egyptologist and professor in the Department of Archaeology at the University of York, who works closely with Barnsley Museums.
She is a world authority on Egypt’s pharaohs including Cleopatra and, in 2003, she identified the mummy of Queen Nefertiti. Joann has published nine books and made numerous television appearances, in 2012 winning a BAFTA and most recently writing and presenting Immortal Egypt, on BBC 2.
She held back tears as she received her award and said: "This is the greatest honour I have ever received and it always will be."
Folk star Kate Rusby, 42, from Cawthrone, is known as The Barnsley Nightingale. The Mercury Music Prize nominated singer songwriter has performed world wide and at numerous fundraising concerts. She is a regular at Barnsley's annual Underneath the Stars festival.
She said: "When I got the invite I questioned whether this really was for me. I had a cry this morning it's overwhelming and astonishing. "
Bard of Barnsley Ian McMillan, 60, of Darfield, is an English poet, journalist, playwright and broadcaster, poet in residence to Barnsley Football Club and honorary President of the Barnsley Branch of Parkinson’s.
He said: "This is an overwhelming honour and to be given it in this fantastic room which is a symbol of civic pride. I'm excited and pleased to live here."
Stainborough born David Moody, 76, was the Queen's representative as Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire from 2004-2015.
He said: "It is a honour beyond my wildest dreams."
Barnsley Council leader Sir Steve Houghton introduced the four at a special full council meeting, chaired by new Mayor of Barnsley Coun Linda Burgess, and said: "All four are so worthy and have made a major contribution to putting our town on the map.
"We recognise the outstanding achievements of individuals and groups, and their contribution to community life in Barnsley, through civic receptions and awards.
"The most celebrated award is the 'Freedom of the Borough', which honours people born in, living in, or having strong associations with Barnsley. It can also be awarded to individuals who have made a major contribution to local, national, or international life."
* To nominate someone for the Freedom of the Borough or to fin out more email [email protected] or write to the Chief Executive, Westgate Plaza One, Barnsley S70 9FA.