Silver-level articleFreeman on the land

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Freeman on the land or freeman is a form of pseudolegal woo in various English-speaking countries. Freemen believe they can opt out of being governed, and that what normal people understand to be "laws" only represent a form of "contract" which only apply if people consent to them. In consequence Freemen believe they are only bound by their own bizarre version of common law, and they will often assert that the law doesn't apply to them as they have not consented to a contract with the state, even going so far as to claim they have a lawful right to refuse arrest if they do not consent. Essentially, they're hilarious and somewhat less threatening sovereign citizens.

Freemen believe they can declare themselves independent of government jurisdiction using the concept of "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.



The "Freeman on the land" movement inherited various indefensible legal concepts from the older tax protester and sovereign citizen movements in the US such as Posse Comitatus in the 1970s and 1980s and the Montana Freemen in the 1990s. Their concepts of admiralty law and common law, their obsession with capitalisation of words and various theories on finance can be traced 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[2]. This then evolved into a movement in Canada, with practitioners such as Robert Menard (who may have actually coined the phrase "Freeman on the land"), before being transferred over to the UK with organisations such as the British Constitution Group and 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 some time around mid-2008.[3]

How it works (or not)

The freeman position is not entirely lacking in moral force: considering government-created law to be a damnable imposition is a defensible stance with a long and respectable history. It's their approach that is made entirely of magic beans and crack.

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 versus statute law, "policeman" versus "police officer," "understand" versus "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 holding strong anti-government and anti-corporate sentiments. Freemen often 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.[4] Freeman ideas are so far-out that even arch-crackpot Alex Jones thinks they're "quackery",[5] and agrees that using them will probably get you sent to jail.

Common law

Freemen have 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 lawWikipedia's W.svg. They see common law as applicable to everyone or, as they put it, applicable to men and women, flesh and blood human beings,[6] but statutory law as dependent on choice, an offer of contract, only applicable to their "person" (their "legal 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" [7]
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 [8]

Freeman methods to these ends fail to understand that the law derives its authority from the fact that the state has the means and the will to use force to impose it. All law in England is ultimately under the jurisdiction of Parliament, which can revoke, rewrite, amend or consolidate case law and real common law as it sees fit. This is the principle of 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.[9]

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 Strawman

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 created when a birth certificate is filed with what would normally be considered someone's name (e.g., JOHN SMITH), capitalization being a particular obsession. 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.

Freemen believe that all legal actions, restrictions and statutes can only be applied 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).[10] 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"), entering into 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, in case this creates "joinder" (see below).

Because of their obsession with admiralty law and all things maritime, freemen believe that their legal person is required to operate in commerce. It is therefore defined as a vessel or ship in the legal realm, floating on the sea of commerce.

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 "Acts nor laws". They do not believe that statute law applies without an individual's consent, and that we are merely 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 to link yourself and 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. (In real law, joinderWikipedia's W.svg means joining related cases together, not establishing identity.)

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 (e.g., those 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. For instance, they claim that the word "must" in legalese is synonymous with "may" in English (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.[10] All these terms are sneaky ways of getting you to contract with the government without realising. No source is provided for this use of language, but it is a convenient way of getting reality to fit a delusion.

For a worked example, see this freeman analysis of a leaflet about the UK TV licence: The DECEPTION of: INCLUDE(S) used by TV LICENSING oop's sorry! CONSIGNIA (CUSTOMER MANAGEMENT) LTD also Traded as TV LICENSING.

Notice of understanding and intent and claim of right

A notice of understanding and intent and claim of right is a made-up pseudolegal 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", listing a series of acts and associated penalties the freeman will attempt to levy against the government for perceived transgressions. e.g., if the state incarcerates a freeman against their will then will attempt to charge the state a fee for this action. They are typically much like this example:[11]

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 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 ...

Lawful rebellion and the Magna Carta

Lawful rebellion is a concept in British freeman theory holding that one can lawfully choose to cease abiding by 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. This claim supposedly stems from clause 61 of the Magna Carta.

Clause 61 is an historically and constitutionally significant clause. It gave twenty-five barons the right to meet and overrule the will of the king and seize his assets, essentially usurping his authority, should this be considered necessary. This was based on distraint (the seizure of someone’s property in order to obtain payment of rent or other money owed), but it was the first time it had been applied to a monarch. It was one of the first times that there had been any kind of restriction on a king's power from below, and arguably it was one of the first checks and balances on the monarch and furthermore the first step toward a constitutional government. Nevertheless, clause 61 was only in effect for three months, as King John later renounced it and Pope Innocent III released King John from his oath to obey it. This led to the First Barons' WarWikipedia's W.svg between the king and his barons.

Freemen claim that clause 61 allows them to cease obeying the state. This sometimes involves sending an affidavit direct to the Queen declaring one's 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 the people. This then makes them sovereign, such that there is no higher authority than 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" appears nowhere in clause 61, being an invention of freeman mythology.

Freemen claim that the Magna Carta cannot be repealed, but this simply is not true. It was, in fact replaced by the Magna Carta of 1297, passed by 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 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.

Admiralty law and court appearance techniques

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" (a distortion of the US-only Uniform 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 they think might have 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 claiming that anyone leaving are "men overboard". Their legal arguments thus tend to 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 as "de facto courts". When they receive a summons to appear in court, they insist that this is not a summons but, in fact, an invitation to a place of business to discuss the matter at hand. When one initially enters a court they are then operating under "admiralty law" rather than (their version of) "common law". American freemen 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.

Freemen will try to claim common law (rather than admiralty law) jurisdiction by asking "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. (This has never worked.) 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 inadvertently entering into 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 freeman 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".[12][13]

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.

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 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 onto which someone has dubbed delusional gibberish. The fact that freemen put these videos — filmed illegally in the UK — on Youtube at all suggests powerful 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 voice-overs 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 relevant part of this rather short act reads:

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. If such person or persons for whose life or lives such Estates have beene or shall be granted as aforesaid shall remaine beyond the Seas or elsewhere absent themselves in this Realme by the space of seaven yeares together and noe sufficient and evident proofe be made of the lives of such person or persons respectively in any Action commenced for recovery of such Tenements by the Lessors or Reversioners in every such case the person or persons upon whose life or lives such Estate depended shall be accounted as naturally dead, And in every Action brought for the recovery of the said Tenements by the Lessors or Reversioners their Heires or Assignes, the Judges before whom such Action shall be brought shall direct the Jury to give their Verdict as if the person soe remaining beyond the Seas or otherwise absenting himselfe were dead.
Cestui Que Vie Act, 1666

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

Freemen believe that the UK and Canada are now operating in bankruptcy and are therefore 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 were listed on the website of credit agency Dunn and Bradstreet under "corporations" as having a credit record.

In reality, any entity (corporation, government, individual person, charity or whatever) that borrows money or works on credit will have a credit record so that creditors can assess the risk of lending. Nor are credit agencies the arbiters of what is and isn't a corporation. The idiosyncrasies of how a credit rating organisation's website list entities is not evidence for 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". However, the UK government (and nearly all western governments) has in fact been running at a deficit pretty much constantly since the war. Furthermore, exactly who is supposed to get the profit from this "corporation" is unclear. For reference, MPs get a fixed standard salary which is way below an equivalent job in the private sector (though the expenses are pretty lavish).

Birth certificates

There are three main beliefs about birth certificates in freeman mythology:

  1. The government uses them to create your strawman and legal person to which all your legal responsibilities, debts and liabilities belong.[10]
  2. 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.[10]
  3. They are financial instruments or birth-tracking bonds (a.k.a. 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, following the abolition of the gold standard the government has been using its own citizenry and their birth certificate "bonds" to secure the value of its fiat currency. It's claimed that the value of an individual's "bond" may reach into the millions. This can supposedly be proved by entering the numbers on one's birth certificate into to various stock tracking sites to show the current value of one's "bond" on the market. In reality, of course, any "bonds" found matching these numbers will be real financial instruments which match by complete coincidence.

Notwithstanding this, freemen believe that one can access the money represented by one's own "bond" though various pseudolegal methods and by filing forms with government agencies. There are plenty of conmen, fraudsters and snake-oil salesmen selling methods on how to achieve this to gullible fools. Naturally, none have ever been shown to work.

The value of one's birth certificate "bond" can also supposedly be used to discharge one's 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. The UK Treasury has stated that the existence of these bonds, as well as various other freeman financial concepts, are myths.[14]

Freeman successes


Freeman failures

Despite the numerous failed attempts to use freeman legal methods, 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. 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.
  3. Google group search Google group's earliest record of its usage seems to be June 2008
  4. Section 16 - See here for how the concept of fractional reserve banking is perverted to justify this claim
  5. Alex Jones calls freeman ideas 'Quackery'
  6. e.g., [1], []
  7. definition of common law
  8. Robert Menard introduces Freeman ideas including a definition of common law
  9. For example, in Pickin v British Railways Board [1974] and Jackson v Attorney General [2005].
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Meet your Strawman (YouTube)
  11. Notice of Understanding and Intent and Claim of Right (example for your use)
  12. Freeman In Gloucester Court 29th Jan 2010 Part 1.
  14. Re: Freedom of Information Act 2000: Birth Tracking Bond etc (HM Treasury, 18 March 2010)
  16. 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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