What is the Cestui Que Vie Act 1666?

If you haven’t noticed that you’re alive every 7 years, the government takes control of your estate as if you’re dead. But it isn’t some kind of overarching Illuminati or New World Order conspiracy.

THIS post will open the eyes of some people. If you skip it, you’ll never know exactly how you relate to yourself and to the ‘system.’ Consider this a ‘redpill’ post in a small way.

Get some coffee … and Aspirin. Or arsenic.

First of all, Cestui Que Vie is pronounced “setticky-vee” or “settikay-vee” in true English manner.

The condensed answer

That piece of primary legislation could be made into a movie called “The Legalistically Dead Island.”

The short (and happy-sounding) explanation is in two parts:—

If you haven’t noticed that you’re alive every 7 years, the government could take control of your estate as if you’re dead.

You always need representation when involved in legal matters because you’re ‘dead’ in legal doctrine.

The enactment

The Cestui Que Vie Act 1666 (18 & 19 Car 2 c. 11) (“CQV Act”) was enacted in Britain during the reign of King Charles II in the aftermath of the Great Fires of London (1666) and the Black Plague (1665) — not to be confused with the deadlier Black Death (1346–53) that ravaged Europe.

The Act is still in force in the UK and was most recently amended in 2010.

The original enactment was passed in camera by Parliament and was written in Latin and French. It came in a preamble and four parts (I–IV). Parts I and IV of the Act are still law in the UK. Parts II and III were repealed by Statute Law Revision Act 1888 (c. 3) and section 3 of the Statute Law Revision Act 1948 (c. 62).

The 1666 Act is not to be confused with several other CQV Acts, all of which have a different construction, aim and purpose.


The Cestui Que Vie Act 1707 (6 Ann c. 72) is totally different from the 1666 Act. Of the 1707 Act, certain legislated words were repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1888 (c. 2) and remainder omitted under authority of section 3 of the Statute Law Revision Act 1948 (c. 62).

Moreover, there is another Cestui Que Vie Act 1540 (32 Hen 8 c. 37), which again differs in purpose to the 1666 and 1707 Acts. The 1540 Act was partly repealed by the Administration of Estates Act 1925 (15 & 16 Geo 5 c. 23), and the remainder by the Statute Law (Repeals) Act 1969 (c. 52).

The CQV Act is a prime example of legal obfuscation and legal deception. But the obfuscation and deception are necessary for the normal functioning of the legal rights of the people. It is also a prime example of supreme legal thinking from the English that many, many other countries have not been able to catch up with.

Background — or why the Act was needed

1666. London was now in flames. The standard narrative until fairly recent times was that the Great Fires of London was the result of sabotage to destabilise the government. (You decide whether it’s sabotage or accident.) The fires came on the aftermath of the Black Plague (1665).

In the aftermath of the plague and the fires, thousands of British people died and their estates left in limbo.

Parliament enacted the 1666 Act in a special closed-door session in 1666. The Act was to subrogate the rights of the people by declaring all men and women in England dead (“lost beyond the seas”), using admiralty law (the law of the seas) as the operating legal framework.

The government of the day took almost everyone and their property into trust, and kept control of both until a living man or woman came back to reclaim their titles — by proving they were alive and entitled to the limbo estates, so that claims for damages could be made or sued for.

Doctrine behind the Act

‘Subrogate’ means to substitute one creditor for another (such as an insurance company sues the person who caused the accident for the insured).

In that sense, the 1666 Act substituted the natural person with a legal fiction to hold his rights in trust — until that natural person eventually finds a way back to reclaim his rights (and maybe seek damages from the relevant parties).

And that was the reason for calling it “cestui que vie” (French for ‘he who lives’) — in the context of “the person for whom a benefit exists” (a beneficiary in modernspeak).

Therefore, the cestui que vie means the legal ‘life’ expectancy of that ‘person’ of legal fiction for measuring various things — the duration of a trust, gift, insurance contract, property rights, land rights, etc. It can also mean the person that a life-insurance policy is drawn on.

Although the idea of CQV has roots in ancient Roman law, the 1666 Act’s doctrinal model was on the 12th-century papal “Claim of Rights” (still in force in the Vatican) — bottom line, to ‘own’ all goods, lands and people. The Act’s purpose was of course different from the papal one.


Ultimately, the Act is why you always need representation in legal matters — because you’re doctrinally dead!

The deceptive wording of the Act (in French and Latin too) makes this law difficult to work with and apply. This means when used in court, the Act is always a judge’s interpretation of it. That interpretation can swing any number of directions — producing a rule that can be intentionally or unintentionally biased. In any case, one or more of the litigants end up receiving an injustice — which sounds more terrible than it actually is.

Part I of the Act is worth quoting:—

[I.] Cestui que vie remaining beyond Sea for Seven Years together and no Proof of their Lives, Judge in Action to direct a Verdict as though Cestui que vie were dead.

Translated into layman’s language:— If you haven’t noticed that you’re alive every 7 years, the government (via a lawsuit) takes control of your estate as if you’re dead.

Here’s a highly condensed version of its operation:—

The State (government, the Crown) is an unincorporated entity. Why unincorporated? It’s private.

Any country’s CQV law empowers the State to take custody of everybody (and their property) into a trust because of some catastrophic event or state of affairs (such as a pandemic). The State is the trustee holding all titles to the people and their property — until a living person comes back to reclaim those titles. If and when that happens, that ‘living person’ can also claim damages.

The CQV law creates and owns the legal fiction of the “John/Jane Doe Corporation” — the cestui que trust (UK, Australia, New Zealand) but more usually “strawman” (Canada, USA).

The only way out of this:— Reclaim your dead entity, become the executor, collapse the strawman, forgive yourself of your debts — and then remove yourself from the admiralty law that held you in the first place.

A lot of people (including lawyers) miss the point about the concept of CQV and the 1666 Act — worse, some kind of conspiracy-theory type of view of it:—

The original purpose and function of a Cestui Que Trust (“CQ trust”) was to form a temporary estate for the benefit of another because some drastic event, condition or state of affairs had prevented the person from claiming his status as living, competent or present before an authority.

All CQ trusts are created on one or more presumptions based on its original purpose and function under the relevant CQV Act — one cannot be created if those presumptions cannot be proven to exist.

By the way, a CQ trust may only exist for 70 years (being the traditional accepted legal life expectancy of the normal estate).

Automatically false and null and void will be any claims, history, statutes or arguments that deviate in terms of the CQ trust’s origin and functions.

The beneficiary under estate may be either a beneficiary or a CQ trust. When a beneficiary loses direct benefit of any property of the higher estate placed in CQ trust on his behalf, he doesn’t ‘own’ the CQ trust — he is only the beneficiary of what the trustees of the CQ trust choose to provide him.

Confused yet?

You can see why the largely illiterate English people of 1666 would have no hope in heaven or hell of even grasping the general idea behind the 1666 Act.

Relevance in modern life

The 1666 Act’s legal fiction is a construct on paper. “Estate in trust” is the usual legal term.

For the USA, the Act has given rise to the U.S. rule against perpetuities, which varies from state to state.

We’re ‘dead’ legal fiction

When you get a court summons (or perhaps a bill for payment), your name is usually always in capital letters (“JOHN DOE”). Like on tombstones, the caps signify ‘death’ — they are writing to the ‘dead’ legal fiction version of you.

Analogy to shipping vessels and the matter of ‘birth’

In the concept of CQV, we are likened to a shipping vessel.

Our birth and its registration are likened to someone informing the government that there is now a new vessel in port, thereby creating the legal fiction.

In that conceptual sense then, my birth certificate issued by authorities is as ships given ‘berth’ papers at the dock, so to speak. I came from the ‘waters’ of my mother. My mother is as the berth canal for a ship. I move by currency in life, just as the ship moves by ocean currents. So the whole thing boils down to … commerce and shipping law.

In times of great trouble in society, we are once living, now dead, just as shipping vessels are taken out for drydocking. All people are therefore viewed to be in the custody of Rex or Regina (the king, the queen) — the Crown, the government, the State. This allows people to continue functioning in life and in commerce and to accept benefits from the State. The markets and merchants (all of us) work according to mercantile law, which comes from admiralty law conceptually.

Bottom line — you’re just an empty shipping vessel floating on the sea of commerce. Your birth is the result of you coming from the waters and canal of your mother. It is where and how we are ‘owned’ through the use of birth certificates (according to some who view it this way). And since births are statutorily required for registration, it is rationalised that parents are legally required to be tricked into registering the births of their babies. Later on in life, we as the conceptual shipping vessels get traded on the “stock exchange of life” every day under the CQV’s admiralty and mercantile laws, put into a trust if need be, and get out of it when we can.

That’s one of several ideas behind the concept of CQV.

If it’s a conspiracy, it’s a useful one

All this information relates to how the general public are still legally tied through maritime/admiralty law. Through this ancient legal construct, we can easily be controlled or duped, depending on the complexion of our government. Learning about your legal fiction(s) might help to unlock yourself. To understand the doctrinal and legal principles behind the CQV is to understand who we are as individuals — and how each of us relate to the ‘system.’

That being said, the CQV (and the 1666 Act) isn’t some kind of overarching Illuminati or New World Order conspiracy. It’s a very useful way to deal with legal issues after some catastrophic event or state of affairs.

The doctrinal ‘mobile-home car’ on the road

More prosaically, the understanding from the CQV Act 1666 is that, where you have money and commerce, you have loss and bankruptcy, both of which then play into ‘justice’ and ‘injury’ — before you can understand the doctrines of the judiciary. In the public sphere, we are all operating in doctrinal ‘bankruptcy’ and you receive doctrinal ‘benefits’ from the State.

When we accept a summons, we accept the existence of the claim — yet doctrinally only the ‘dead’ can be summoned. So there is an obligation to accept any liability that the law has created for that matter.

As we are living and operating in admiralty, literally any plea (guilty, not guilty) admits jurisdiction. The legal fiction ‘strawman’ is always ‘guilty’ in the doctrinal sense. Lawyers make a living out of creating (and solving) legal controversy. And by being involved in that controversy, you become liable for the case doctrinally.

That then plays into the notion of ‘honour’ vs. ‘dishonour.’ When you accept a claim and settle (discharge) it, you remain in honour. And when you add conditions (“I accept on proof of claim and proof of loss”), this throws the liability back at the other party. The legal fiction is always guilty.

Only in the courts can the real man or woman appear. Games are played on courts (hence law courts). It’s a game with actors acting on acts. It has to be treated as a game and a business.

Don’t be misled by courtroom dramas on TV and movies.

Final word

It takes a lot of time, effort and study to understand the true doctrines and use tools like the CQV Act. You have to be prepared to go through the process in full (and be highly confused in the process). Getting the right tools out of the toolbox at the right time isn’t quite the same as using it the right way either.

Oddly enough, the CQV Act 1666 makes some sense to me.

If someone disappears, then you have to do something about it for the sake of the people left behind, otherwise the estate couldn’t be sorted out — probate could never be obtained — people with missing family members couldn’t access family bank accounts, move house, remarry or claim death insurance — jointly owned businesses would be in limbo forever.

For instance, I knew someone left in this position (spouse went out one day and never seen again) — and seven years is a very long time indeed to be in legal and financial limbo.

* * *

They really do walk among us

Or, one of us understands English law, and it’s not you

The idiots, I mean, not the Walking Dead, though much could be said the two are one and the same.

Lipsync Lawyer had endured one occasion of pointless bickering with a so-called “John Murphy,” who proceeded to trounce me for the CQV Act 1666 isn’t what is presented above. He claimed to be a barrister from or of Australia, but there’s no way for me to confirm or deny that — I simply take it at face value.

J.M. claimed the 1666 Act was and is applicable only where an estate (in land, goods or whatever) is owned by or vested in a person who hasn’t been seen for some years. That is true enough, as explained above.

For instance, you might leave all your estate to your kids in your Will, so that they only get to receive the estate when you die. What happens if you vanished for years on end? Is your estate just sitting there in limbo forever? The Act was the solution. After 7 years from the apparent time of your disappearance, the beneficiaries can apply to the probate court for a judicial declaration that you’re dead. So far so good.

But what happens if you turn up alive after (say) 15 years? The Act says you can apply to the courts, prove that you’re you, and the beneficiaries who took your estate has to give it back (plus any profits they made from it).

Now J.M. claimed THAT is the only function of the 1666 Act — that it’s a matter of private and not public law — so it’s complete nonsense to assert that if the State doesn’t hear from you in 7 years, “it snaffles your property and holds it on trust.” This is partly true, but the part about the State isn’t nonsense. It’s not strictly the whole truth of the matter in England and Wales. The example J.M. gave was JUST THAT — the operation of the Act in a particular circumstance.

When it comes to people leaving things to beneficiaries in their Wills and then turning up alive after some years, it’s true that THAT is how it operates — not just under the CQV Act 1666 but other Acts as well.

So J.M. was saying the idea is just nonsense that, if you don’t get a parking ticket or the like in 7 years, the State can seize your property.

That’s not the point. It COULD be true, and that’s why the 1666 Act has become so short now. Not saying the State WOULD do that — only that it CAN do that (if it chooses) via the 1666 Act and other Acts in the legal armoury.

J.M. argued the State cannot, and that I should read the Act. It authorises the court to make certain orders in certain circumstances where an application is commenced by private litigants (not the State). That’s true enough.

But he is wrong about these things:—

That the operation of the CQV Act 1666 doesn’t confer any power or right on the State.

Wrong — it did, and still does in a residual way. That’s why the bulk of those powers (in Parts II and III) were repealed in 1948.

That the State, in a democracy, cannot arbitrarily seize private property but only in circumstances defined by other legislation and to pay compensation. J.M. went on to say, “Indeed, in our written constitution, the Federal Government [in Australia?] can acquire private property, but only on ‘just terms.’ The constitutional position is the same in the US.”

It’s impossible to contradict that. It’s true enough in most countries around the world. But here’s the thing. The CQV Act 1666 is exactly one of those “other legislation” he spoke of.

That he read the CQV Act 1707 and it was consistent with his construction [sic] in the points just above, and there’s nothing in the 1707 Act saying anything about the State owning everything and everyone — that he can’t even see how anyone (like me) could even begin to interpret it that way “if they weren’t full of something highly illegal.”

For pete’s sakes, read the right Act.

And you mean interpretation rather than construction.

The Cestui Que Vie Act 1707 (6 Ann c. 72) is a totally different CQV enactment with a different aim and purpose from the 1666 Act. There are SEVERAL of those CQV Acts, each of which are different from each other. That’s why there are YEARS given in the short titles of Acts, along with the regnal tags (“(6 Ann c. 72)“) to avoid ambiguity. This should be known to all law students, never mind a barrister.

Now getting sussed out himself, this J.M. personage gone pear-shaped and launched into a tirade full of highly defamatory remarks, including (but not limited to):—

  • whether the source of my original post was from a website called Exodus;
  • that what I said was legal nonsense “and, what is more, seems to form the basis for a scam”; and
  • that “I do no believe you are a qualified lawyer as you said you were. No qualified lawyer could draw your meaning out of the [1666] Act.”

Here’s my opinion of his opinion:—

You read the 1707 Act, not the original 1666 Act, which was in French (not English) and that’s somewhat unusual even for those times.

Exodus site — I’ve never even heard of it until now, but I’ll take a look at it later. If you can, let me have the URL of that Exodus site — for my own legal records and possible interest.

As an English solicitor (which you’re not), my piece is part of what was taught to us in law school — and part of the meaning I drew from the 1666 Act. I never said it was the complete deal. And the other part of the deal is very similar to what you’ve been saying all along. So, Mr J.M., cut the rebob. I believe you’re a qualified barrister, but I don’t think you’re reading my piece the way it should be read. I also resent your defamatory remarks.

You’re more than welcome to write your own piece on the matter (on Lipsync Lawyer, if you like) and pick up the issues that you feel are defective in my piece.

You said you couldn’t find a link to the 1666 text. Come now, you’re a practising barrister. I’m a non-practising solicitor.

You said the current version of the 1666 Act shows that the original Part III was deleted in 1863 (no, it was in 1888, actually), followed by Part II in 1948. According to you, that means the 1707 Act must have contained the provisions that I was relying on, yet nothing in the 1707 text remotely supports the construction I was placing on it.

That’s right. The 1707 Act doesn’t support my construction — because it’s a totally different Act with an identical name. You’re reading the wrong bloody Act, mate. This piece has always been for the 1666 Act. The original enactment (the one in French) isn’t online (and has never been online). The current online 1666 Act with the UK government is an exemplification of the original enactment — similar in situation to the situation with the various exemplifications of the Magna Carta. Either you know English law or you don’t.

How do I know what the original enactment says? Because I read the wretched thing in hardcopy during law school, that’s why. The 1707 Act doesn’t bear any fucking resemblance to the 1666 Act. So why are you referencing something irrelevant? I’m not referencing the 1707 Act at all. If you don’t understand this, then I can’t help you.

Author: thenakedlistener

Printbroker, financial printer & editor. Previously in London, Rome, Tokyo & Beirut. Motorbiker & non-practising lawyer. Wears cowboy boots & a ponytail. Fabulous.