Bronze-level articleFreeman on the land

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Freeman on the land or freeman is a form of pseudolegal woo existing in various English-speaking countries. Freemen believe that they can opt out of being governed and that legislative acts only apply with consent, as they are a form of contract. They believe they are only bound by their own bizarre version of common law. They will often assert that the law doesn't apply as they do not consent and do not agree to contract with the state, even going so far as to believe they have a lawful right to refuse being arrested if they do not consent. Essentially, they're hilarious and somewhat less threatening sovereign citizens.

Freemen believe they can declare themselves independent of the jurisdiction of the government via a concept known as "lawful rebellion": that all statute law is contractual and therefore only applicable if an individual consents to it. They believe the only "true" law is their own definition of common law. Other aspects include insisting that the government is a corporation, an obsession with maritime law, and calling themselves such things as 'John of the family Smith.'

No freeman arguments have ever been recognised in court; some have even explicitly ruled that the term "freeman on the land" has no legal significance.[1] This won't stop freemen from claiming they work.


How it works (or not)

A lot of freeman ideas revolve around bizarre interpretations of entries in Black's Law Dictionary (a favourite reference for freemen), and inventing or seeing distinctions where there are none to support their beliefs (such as common vs. statute law, policeman vs police officer, understand vs stand-under, words in CAPITALS having a different legal meaning to those in lower-case, etc.). There is a lot of pareidolia with words and concepts used to derive and justify ideas in freeman theory.

Freemen are typically members of the green ink brigade and often indulge in various other conspiracy theories, as well as strong anti-government and anti-corporate sentiments. Freeman ideas are often used to try to escape tax and debt repayment by arguing that they are not required to pay tax, or even to argue that borrowed money was theirs to start with.[2] Freeman ideas are so far out that even arch-crackpot Alex Jones thinks it's quackery (seriously, see for yourself)[3] and agrees that using them will probably get you sent to jail.


"Freeman on the land" ideas inherit several aspects from the older tax protester and sovereign citizen movements in the US such as Posse Comitatus in the 70s and 80s and the Montana Freemen in the 90s. Ideas such as their concepts of admiralty law, common law, their obsession with capitalisation of words and various theories on finance can trace their origins back to almost identical theories from these movements. The freeman movement itself appears to have originated in Canada with 'Mary Elizabeth: Croft' (sic) and her 2005 book How I clobbered every bureaucratic cash-confiscatory agency known to man ... a Spiritual Economics Book on $$$ and Remembering Who You Are[4]. This then evolved in to a movement in Canada with practitioners such as Robert Menard (who may have actually coined the phrase "Freeman on the land") before transferring over to the UK with people such as John Harris, Brian Gerrish, the Anti-terrorist and Raymond St Clair. The phrase "Freeman on the land" itself seems to have originated sometime around mid 2008.[5]

Common law

Freemen have something of an obsession with common law, which typically refers to what is known as case law.

As distinguished from statutory law created by the enactment of legislatures, the common law comprises the body of those principles and rules of action, relating to the government and security [rights] of persons and property, which derive their authority solely from usages and customs of immemorial antiquity, or from the judgements and decrees of the courts recognizing, affirming, and enforcing such usages and customs; and in this sense, particularly the ancient unwritten law of England.
—Black's law dictionary 6th edition 1991

Freemen use this entry to justify a different definition, one which is heavily reliant on the concept of natural law. They see common law as applicable to everyone or, as they would claim, applicable to men and women, flesh and blood human beings, but statutory law as dependent on choice, an offer of contract, only applicable to their person and not enforceable except by consent. Some definitions of the freeman interpretation of common law are:

"you do not cause harm or loss to another, while you never breach the peace, and never employ any mischief in your promises & agreements
—Veronica: of the chapman family" [6]
never harm or causes loss
—John Harris
There are only three ways to break the law. Harm another human being, damage someone else's property, use fraud or mischief in your contracts
—Robert Menard [7]

What Freemen don't seem to understand is that all law in England is ultimately under the jurisdiction of Parliament which can revoke, rewrite, amend or consolidate case law/real common law whenever it sees fit. This is the principle known as Parliamentary sovereignty, where parliament is recognised as the supreme legal authority and being able therefore to pass or repeal any law it wishes, with the only restriction being that it cannot bind future parliaments. Parliamentary sovereignty is recognised by the courts as a fundamental feature of the common law in England and Wales, for example in Pickin v British Railways Board [1974] and Jackson v Attorney General [2005].

Ultimately, the law derives its authority from the fact that the state has the means and the will to use force to impose it. You can argue that the authorities have no jurisdiction over you, and you can choose not to recognise their authority, but as long as the authorities have force to back up their rules they can enforce sanctions against you. Freemen would argue that this would be unlawful imprisonment - but at the end of the day you'd still be in jail.

Legal Person or Straw man

See the main article on this topic: Strawman theory

Freemen believe that an individual has two personas. One of them is a physical, tangible human being, and the other is their legal person, personality or strawman. A legal fiction which is created when a birth certificate is filed with what would normally be considered someone's name (eg; JOHN SMITH), capitalization being a particular obsession. Freemen believe that all legal actions, restrictions and statutes can only be applicable to their legal personality, and that by separating themselves from their legal person, they can free themselves of having to abide by statute laws they don't like (or acts, as they would insist they are not laws).[8] This is typically done by using a slightly different spelling of their name, usually 'John of the family Smith' (variations include 'John of Smith' or even 'John;Smith') and/or entering in to what is referred to as Lawful Rebellion, or by filing a Notice of Understanding and Intent and Claim of Right. They also believe that use of titles such as Mr/Mrs refer to their legal fiction as opposed to themselves and will therefore refuse to be identified using them (as this may create joinder). Freemen believe their birth certificate is their legal person, and will attempt to present it in court when said person is called for, rather than identifying themselves as that person.

Because of their obsession with admiralty law and all things maritime, freemen believe that their legal person is required to operate in commerce, or the sea of commerce. It is therefore defined as a vessel or ship in the legal realm, floating on the sea of commerce. Evidence of this comes in the form of the resemblance between birth and berth, use of the term birth canal and the fact that courtrooms have docks. All legal action between your person and others is therefore conducted under admiralty law, mercantile law or commercial law, sometimes referred to as the law of the sea.

Contracts and statutes

Because of their conception of common law as the only true law, freemen believe that any laws made by the government are not 'laws', but are instead invitations to contract, or 'acts', giving rise to the freeman maxim of 'Acts nor laws'. They do not believe that statute law applies without an individual's consent, and that we are just conditioned and deceived by the authorities to believe that they do. Freemen claim that statutes can have the force of law as a binding contract under the correct conditions.

Freemen believe that the government has to establish what they refer to as joinder which means they have to get you to voluntarily establish your identity as your legal person. When they ask you whether you are 'John Smith' and you confirm that you are then you are establishing joinder. You have then connected your physical and human persons. The next step is to obtain consent. Statutes are seen as invitations to enter a contract, which are only legally enforceable if one enters into the contract consensually. If one does not enter in to a contract then statute laws are not applicable. Freemen believe that the government is therefore constantly trying to trick people into entering into a contract with them. They often return bills, notices, summons and so on with the message "No contract - return to sender".

Central to this idea is the concept of legalese, referred to as the language of the law society. Freemen invent several distinctions to make reality fit their interpretation. Notices (for example those which are issued by courts, the police or some government agencies) are supposedly written in legalese. Legalese is designed to look like English by using English words but is, in fact not English. Dun dun dun. For instance, they state that the word 'must', in legalese, is synonymous with 'may' (and vice-versa). 'Summons' means 'invitation', 'demand' means 'offer' and 'understand' (as in 'do you understand?') means 'stand under', as in 'do you stand under these words', i.e., accept the terms of our contract.[8] All these terms are sneaky ways of getting you to contract with the government without you realising. No source is provided for this use of language, but it is a convenient way of getting reality to fit a delusion. After all, if one were to start claiming that somebody says one thing but actually mean something completely different, then one can start to claim almost anything.

See here for an example of how they redefine a leaflet about the UK TV licence [1].

Notice of understanding and intent and claim of right

A 'Notice of understanding and intent and claim of right' is a made up legal document freemen use in an attempt to declare sovereignty. They will sign such a document, sometimes with a notary, and then send it to the Queen and sometimes various other figures such as the prime minister and police chiefs. It usually consists of a series of lines beginning 'Whereas it is my understanding' followed by an assertion which is usually untrue or completely illogical. Various parts will state their bizarre interpretation of the law and their understanding that they do not consent to it. This is then followed by what is known as a 'Fee schedule' or 'Penalty schedules' which lists a series of acts and associated penalties the freeman will attempt to levy against the government for perceived transgressions. For instance, if the state incarcerates a freeman against their will then will attempt to charge the state a fee for this action; see here for an example of one. They typically begin as follows

I, Veronica: of the Chapman family, hereinafter known as Veronica: Chapman, a flesh and blood human being in possession of a sovereign and individual spirit, a living soul, do hereby make Oath and state the following is My Truth and My Law:

Whereas it is my understanding that in terms of earthly existence there is no species more supreme than a living, breathing, imaginative human being blessed with a living soul, and

Whereas it is my understanding that it is impossible to distinguish one soul from any other, and therefore all souls must at all times and in all situations be considered equal in all respects in any fair, just and reasonable context, and

Whereas it is my understanding that anything and everything must in practice derive from the aforesaid axioms, and

Whereas it is my understanding that any numerical grouping of such souls can be referred to as 'people', and

Whereas it is my understanding that a society is, in essence, nothing more than a grouping of like-minded souls since it is defined as a number of people joined by mutual consent to deliberate, determine and act for a common goal, and

Whereas it is my understanding a statute is defined as a legislated rule of a society, and

Whereas it is my understanding a legislated rule of a society can be given the force of law to act upon, or lawfully bind, all members of that society, and

Whereas it is my understanding if a living soul chooses by free will not to be a member of any society then statutes created by said society do not bind that soul to said statute law, and

Whereas it is my understanding a living soul who chooses by free will not to be a member of any society can be referred to as a Freeman-on-the-land, and

Whereas it is my understanding a Freeman-on-the-land remains entirely and solely under Common Law jurisdiction, and

Whereas I Veronica: Chapman am a Freeman-on-the-land, and

Whereas it is my understanding that all authority possessed by elected representatives must inherently derive from those who elect said representation, and Whereas it is my understanding that if I have the right to empower representation by casting a vote then I am empowered to represent myself, and

Whereas it is my understanding that the right of empowerment does not derive from any government otherwise it would be possible for a government to revoke it, and

Whereas it is my understanding that if the right to empower representation were revoked then no representation would thereafter be possible, and

Whereas it is my understanding the only form of government recognized as lawful in the United Kingdom is a representative one, and ...

Lawful rebellion and the Magna Carta

Lawful rebellion is another concept in British freeman theory holding that one can lawfully choose to cease abiding the laws, rules and statutes of a country by simply opting out of society. Lawful rebellion is often an alternative to the Notice of Understanding and Intent and Claim of Right method, although they are sometimes used together. Freemen believe that they can withdraw their consent to be governed and can sacrifice ones legal person by entering into lawful rebellion and they will no longer be bound or affected by any legislative statutes. This claim stems from clause 61 of the Magna Carta:

Since, moreover, for God and the amendment of our kingdom and for the better allaying of the quarrel that has arisen between us and our barons, we have granted all these concessions, desirous that they should enjoy them in complete and firm endurance forever, we give and grant to them the underwritten security, namely, that the barons choose five and twenty barons of the kingdom, whomsoever they will, who shall be bound with all their might, to observe and hold, and cause to be observed, the peace and liberties we have granted and confirmed to them by this our present Charter, so that if we, or our justiciar, or our bailiffs or any one of our officers, shall in anything be at fault towards anyone, or shall have broken any one of the articles of this peace or of this security, and the offense be notified to four barons of the foresaid five and twenty, the said four barons shall repair to us (or our justiciar, if we are out of the realm) and, laying the transgression before us, petition to have that transgression redressed without delay. And if we shall not have corrected the transgression (or, in the event of our being out of the realm, if our justiciar shall not have corrected it) within forty days, reckoning from the time it has been intimated to us (or to our justiciar, if we should be out of the realm), the four barons aforesaid shall refer that matter to the rest of the five and twenty barons, and those five and twenty barons shall, together with the community of the whole realm, distrain and distress us in all possible ways, namely, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, and in any other way they can, until redress has been obtained as they deem fit, saving harmless our own person, and the persons of our queen and children; and when redress has been obtained, they shall resume their old relations towards us. And let whoever in the country desires it, swear to obey the orders of the said five and twenty barons for the execution of all the aforesaid matters, and along with them, to molest us to the utmost of his power; and we publicly and freely grant leave to everyone who wishes to swear, and we shall never forbid anyone to swear. All those, moveover, in the land who of themselves and of their own accord are unwilling to swear to the twenty five to help them in constraining and molesting us, we shall by our command compel the same to swear to the effect foresaid. And if any one of the five and twenty barons shall have died or departed from the land, or be incapacitated in any other manner which would prevent the foresaid provisions being carried out, those of the said twenty five barons who are left shall choose another in his place according to their own judgment, and he shall be sworn in the same way as the others. Further, in all matters, the execution of which is entrusted, to these twenty five barons, if perchance these twenty five are present and disagree about anything, or if some of them, after being summoned, are unwilling or unable to be present, that which the majority of those present ordain or command shall be held as fixed and established, exactly as if the whole twenty five had concurred in this; and the said twenty five shall swear that they will faithfully observe all that is aforesaid, and cause it to be observed with all their might. And we shall procure nothing from anyone, directly or indirectly, whereby any part of these concessions and liberties might be revoked or diminished; and if any such things has been procured, let it be void and null, and we shall never use it personally or by another.
—Magna Carta 1215

Clause 61 of the Magna Carta is a historically and constitutionally significant clause. It gave 25 barons the right to meet and overrule the will of the king and seize his assets, essentially usurping his authority, if this was considered necessary. This was one of the first times that there had been any kind of restriction on a king's power from below. It could be argued as being one of the first checks and balances and the first step toward the move for constitutional government. Clause 61 was only in effect for 3 months as King John later renounced it and Pope Innocent III released King John from his oath to obey it. This led to a civil war between the king and his barons known as the 1st Baron's War.

Freemen claim that clause 61 allows them to cease obeying the state. This sometimes involves sending an affidavit direct to the Queen declaring ones intent to become a freeman and removing their consent to be governed. Some freemen believe that the Queen represents the highest authority in the land as the sovereign but that she derives her authority from we the people. This then makes them sovereign in such that there is no higher authority then themselves. The actual text of Magna Carta's clause 61 explicitly refers to the King and the Barons (25 of them being required to invoke the clause), nowhere is there any mention of the people free or otherwise (nor would there be given the feudal system in place at the time). The phrase 'Lawful Rebellion' doesn't appear anywhere in it, being an invention of freeman mythology.

Freemen claim that Magna Carta cannot be repealed but this simply is not true. Aside from the fact it was almost instantly repealed, it was itself replaced by the Magna Carta of 1297 passed by the later Edward I in return for new taxes. It is this 1297 version (without any clause 61 or anything resembling it) which is now in force although all but three sections of it have in turn been repealed. Admittedly it took until 1829 until a single clause was repealed but by 1969 all but sections 1 (freedom of the church), 9 (freedom of the city of London) and 29 (right to due process) had been repealed or superseded. This should be considered a good thing as Magna Carta by today's standards cannot be considered to be the most progressive of documents. Clause 54 (1215) for instance prevented women from giving evidence "No one shall be arrested or imprisoned upon the appeal of a woman for the death of anyone except her husband".

Admiralty law and courts

Freemen see a distinction between what they call common law and statute law, which they refer to as admiralty law or 'law of the sea', sometimes also known as maritime law or the universal commercial code. Through a stunning misunderstanding of etymology, they see admiralty law as being the law of commerce, the law of ownerShip, citizenSHIP, and indeed anything else ending in ship. They see evidence of this in various nautical sounding terms used in court, such as dock, birth (berth) certificate, -ship suffixes, and any other fancy word with a vaguely naval sound. Freemen will take this further by using further nautical terms, referring to the court as a ship, its occupants as passengers and claming that anyone leaving are men overboard. Consequently their legal arguments tend to have a hilarious nautical theme.

Freemen see courts as being a place of business intended to make profit for the government corporation. They sometimes refer to these courts de facto courts. When they receive a summons to appear as court they insist that this is not summons but is in fact an invitation to their place of business to discuss the matter at hand. When one initially enters a court they are operating under admiralty law rather than their version of common law. American Freemen on the land will sometimes try to argue that if the flag in the court has a gold fringe, this signifies that it is an Admiralty court. British courts tend not to have flags of any type, so the claim has largely failed to cross the Atlantic. Believing they are operating under admiralty law, freemen will try claim common law jurisdiction by stating 'do you have a claim against me, which supposedly removes their consent to be governed by admiralty law and turns the court into a common law court, forcing the court to proceed according to their version of common law. Any cooperation with the court is seen as accepting their terms of contract, and freemen will therefore refuse to do anything asked of them. When asked to stand or approach the bench, they will often refuse to do so, or only do so as long as 'their inalienable god given rights remain intact', in order to prevent them from entering a contract. Freemen will also attempt to 'put the judge on their oath' to force them to to act in accordance with common law, which entails asking to see evidence of this oath. Judges typically give short shrift to this kind of request, and either adjourn the hearing or threaten to accuse the Freeman of contempt of court. The freemen might then ask whether the judge means civil or criminal contempt; this is because freemen believe that civil contempt would come under admiralty law, and therefore require a consensual contract, and criminal contempt would require a victim. When Judges leave the courtroom, Freemen will attempt to claim common law authority and then attempt to dismiss the charges themselves, often with a cry of "ship abandoned" or "man overboard".[9][10]

Freemen believe that that a victim must exist for a common law crime to have been committed. One of their attempts at defence will be to demand to see evidence of a victim. They may also complain that the trial is unfair because the judge and prosecution are on the same team, both being employed by the state. If a Freeman has had their property confiscated, they will request that it be returned to them. None of these defences ever get them anywhere but they persist in using them anyway. Silly buggers.

Freemen will never accept legal representation, as to do so might entail contracting with the state. They also believe that professional lawyers and solicitors owe a duty to the crown before them due to their oath, and therefore cannot represent them effectively. Professional lawyers are also all part of the evil legal system and therefore not to be trusted.

Other legal woo attempted by Freemen include serving their own papers on courts and the police and even attempting to send invoices (or, as they refer to them, fee schedules) to courts and the police.

Court appearances are by far the most hysterical part of the freeman delusion as various youtube videos will attest. Watching freemen trying to apply their delusions to reality is like watching a video of a slow motion train wreck on top of which someone has dubbed some delusional gibberish. The fact that freemen put these videos—filmed illegally in the UK—on Youtube at all suggests cognitive dissonance since they typically make the protagonist look very foolish. Techniques used to overcome the manifest failure of freeman logic in court include editing out key moments in favour of voiceovers and mistaking adjournments for acquittals.

Economics and finance

Freemen have some bizarre ideas dating back to the Cestui Que Vie Act of 1666. They claim that this act declared all English citizens dead and lost beyond the seas unless they objected within seven years of their birth, after which they would be declared dead without reasonable doubt. The state would then claim all the property of its citizens in trust. The full text of the act can be read here courtesy of the national archives. It's very short and reads as follows;

Recital that Cestui que vies have gone beyond Sea, and that Reversioners cannot find out whether they are alive or dead.

Whereas diverse Lords of Mannours and others have granted Estates by Lease for one or more life or lives, or else for yeares determinable upon one or more life or lives And it hath often happened that such person or persons for whose life or lives such Estates have beene granted have gone beyond the Seas or soe absented themselves for many yeares that the Lessors and Reversioners cannot finde out whether such person or persons be alive or dead by reason whereof such Lessors and Reversioners have beene held out of possession of their Tenements for many yeares after all the lives upon which such Estates depend are dead in regard that the Lessors and Reversioners when they have brought Actions for the recovery of their Tenements have beene putt upon it to prove the death of their Tennants when it is almost impossible for them to discover the same, For remedy of which mischeife soe frequently happening to such Lessors or Reversioners.
—Cestui Que Vie Act, 1666

The true intent of this act is obvious: it states that anyone lost at sea for more than seven years will be declared legally dead. How anyone can arrive at a different conclusion is bizarre.

Freemen believe that the UK and Canada are now operating in bankruptcy and therefore is under admiralty law. Since the abolition of the gold standard in 1917, UK currency is now backed not by gold but rather by the people, or rather the legal fiction of their persons. They describe persons as creditors of the UK corporation.


Freemen are typically strongly anti-government and believe that the government is a corporation (number uc2279443). The proof is that the government and various parts of it are listed on the website of credit agency 'Dunn and Bradstreets' as having a credit record. Any other evidence that runs contrary to this view is commonly viewed as wrong, lies, deception, etc... Only evidence which supports this view is accepted as correct, in a similar way to how conspiracy theorists often treat evidence that runs contradictory to their viewpoints.

In reality any entity be that corporation, government, person/human, charity or whatever that borrows money or works on credit will need a credit record so that creditors can assess the risk of lending. Credit agencies are also not the arbiters of what is and isn't a corporation. I could set up a credit rating organisation tomorrow and say that such and such is a corporation, but it wouldn't make it so. The idiosyncrasies of how a credit rating organisation's website list entities should not be taken as proof of outrageous claims.

Freemen also claim that when we vote we are in fact electing directors of a company for profit, that MPs are directors and the voters are employees of the corporation. Although the UK government (and nearly all western governments) has in fact been running at a deficit pretty much constantly since the war. Who is supposed to get the profit from this corporation is unclear. MPs get a fixed standard salary which is way below an equivalent job in the private sector.

Birth certificates

There are three main beliefs about birth certificates in freemen mythology

  • The government uses them to create your strawman and legal person to which all your legal responsibilities, debts and liabilities belong.[8]
  • As a form of registration they transfer ownership of an individual to the state. This is what allows the state to seize your children if you don't play by their rules.[8]
  • They are financial instruments or birth tracking bonds (aka live birth bonds) that are sold by the government and then traded on the sea of international commerce, using you as security.

According to freeman woo since the abolition of the gold standard the government uses its own citizenry and their birth certificate bonds to secure the value of its fiat currency. It's claimed that the value of an individuals bond may reach into the millions. This can supposedly be proved by entering the numbers on ones birth certificate in to various stock tracking sites to show the current value of ones bond on the market. Although in reality any 'bonds' found matching these numbers will be by complete coincidence of the numbers being the same as actual financial instruments. Freemen believe that one can supposedly access the money represented by ones own bond though numerous pseudolegal methods and by filing various forms with government agencies. There are plenty of conmen, fraudsters and snake oil salesmen selling various methods and secrets on how to achieve this to gullible fools. Naturally none have ever been shown to work (as if this even needed to be stated!). The value of ones birth certificate bond can also supposedly be used to discharge ones debts and financial liabilities through a process known as 'acceptance for value' or 'A4V'. Without the freeman having to gain direct access to the funds himself of course. The UK Treasury has stated that the existence of these bonds, as well as various other freeman financial concepts are myths.[11]

Freeman failures

Despite the numerous attempts to use freeman legal woo and their obvious failures freemen will always insist that they do work, even clinging to this delusion when arrested and thrown in the cells. Below are some examples.

See also

External links



  1. 'Freemen' are told they will be tried
  2. Section 16 - See here for how the concept of fractional reserve banking in perverted to justify this claim
  3. Alex Jones calls freeman ideas 'Quackery'
  4. How I clobbered every bureaucratic cash-confiscatory agency known to man ... a Spiritual Economics Book on $$$ and Remembering Who You Are She actually lists David Icke as a source in this book
  5. Google group search Google group's earliest record of its usage seems to be June 2008
  6. definition of common law
  7. Robert Menard introduces Freeman ideas including a definition of common law
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Meet your Strawman (YouTube)
  9. Freeman In Gloucester Court 29th Jan 2010 Part 1.
  11. [ Freedom of information request regarding Birth Tracking Bonds etc...
  13. At 38:04 in this video John Harris cites Baby P as an example when talking about social services taking peoples children away from them. Baby P was a case in the UK of a child who died at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend. Social services and the various other agencies involved were widely criticised for failing to take the child in to care and not identifying the risk to the child. Not only is it intellectually dishonest to cite an emotive real life example that actually contradicts your argument, to misrepresent a tragic case like this in such a way is downright offensive.
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