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The History of Insurance


Editors: David Jenkins and Takau Yoneyama

8 volume set: 3200pp: 234x156mm: 2000
978 1 85196 527 4: £650/$1150

‘The narrative that can be read between the lines of these volumes tells of humanity’s search for ways to guard against the potentially catastrophic consequences of loss. No library of a university with a school of business should be without them.’

The Journal of Risk and Insurance


  • Description
  • Contents
  • Reviews
The insurance business is one of the key industries in terms of size and importance. Now immensely sophisticated, its relatively humble origins are still little known. The History of Insurance gathers together key writings which chart the formative years of the whole concept and review important historical stages from contemporary perspectives.
The collection includes texts spanning three centuries from major figures of their time, amongst them Francis Bacon, Daniel Defoe, Charles Babbage and Edwin Chadwick. Insurance as a readily recognisable business first emerged in Britain at the end of the sixteenth century. The two main concerns of the pioneers over the next two hundred years were fire insurance, doubtless a reaction to such events as the Great Fire of London in 1666, and marine insurance, a reflection of Britain's prominent position in the world of seaborne trade. These two areas are afforded detailed coverage in the selection of documents reproduced. Some of the records of the very earliest of companies are included – the Sun Fire Office, Royal Exchange Assurance and the Hand in Hand – the three offices chiefly responsible for developing the theory and practice of insurance throughout the eighteenth century.
  • Texts reproduced in facsimile
  • First editions used wherever possible
  • A comprehensive general introduction is included, and tehre are headnotes to each item
  • A consolidated index appears in the final volume

Volume 1

Mr Newbold, London’s Improvement and the Builders’ Security Asserted, by the apparent advantages that will attend their easie charge, in raising such a joint-stock as may assure a Re-Building of those Houses which shall hereafter be Destroyed by the Casualties of Fire (1680); The Fire Office, ‘From the Insurance Office for Houses on the Back-Side of the Royal Exchange’ (1680); The Fire Office, extracts from ‘Arguments for Insuring Houses from Fire’ (1680-1); The Fire Office, ‘September 16th 1681. An Advertisement from the Insurance Office for houses etc.’ (1681); The Fire Office, A Table of the Insurance Office at the Back-side of the Royal Exchange (1681); The Fire Office, A Table for insurance of Houses from Fire from One Pound per annum to a Hundred for Thirty-one Years, or Under (1681); The Fire Office, ‘A Table of the Insurance Office at the back-side of the Royal Exchange (1685); The Fire Office, A Table shewing the Rates of Insuring Houses from One Year to Seven: at the Fire-Office, Kept against the Royal Exchange in Cornhill: And at the Rainbow-Coffee House by the inner-Temple-Gate in Fleetstreet (1700); Phenix Office, Two notices (1705); Phenix Office, Example policy of the Phenix Company (1705); Corporation of London, ‘At a Common Council holden in the chamber of the Guildhall ... Proposals for Insuring of Houses in Cases of Fire (1681); Corporation of London, A Table of all Terms of Years from One to Thirty One Inclusive; and from thence by every Ten years to one Hundred Inclusive, and from thence for Ever (1681); Corporation of London, Fire Insurance Policy (c. 1682); An enquiry whether it be the interest of the City to insure houses from Fire; and what advantage the insured may expect more than from the Insurance Office already setled (1681); ‘Observations on the proposals of the city to insure houses in the case of fire’ (1681); I R, ‘A Letter to a Gentleman of the Insurance Office, concerning the Cities insuring houses’ (1681); L R, ‘To My Honoured Friend Mr M. T., one of the Committee chosen by the Common Council of London, for the Insuring of Houses by Fire’ (1682); L R ‘A second letter to his Honoured Friend Mr M T one of the Committee chosen by the Common-Council of London for the insuring of Houses from Fire’ (1682); A proposal of a New way or Method for Securing Houses from any Considerable Loss by Fire, by way of Subscription, and Mutual! Contribution (1683); A Breviate of the Establishment of the Friendly Society for Securing Houses from Loss by Fire by Mutual Contribution agreed by the Trustees Inrolled in Chancery, and to be seen at large at the Office (1684); N B (Dr Nicholas Barbon); ‘A letter to a Gentleman in the Country, Giving an Account of the Two Insurance-Offices: the Fire Office and Friendly Society’ (1684); H. S. (Henry Spelman), ‘An Answer to a Letter to a Gentleman in the Countrey, giving an account of the Two Insurance Offices, the Fire Office and Friendly Society’ (1685); ‘The Method Proposed by Alexander Cutting for Preventing the Increase in Fires’ (1680s); Nicholas Barbon, An Advertisement: Being a Proposal by Dr Barbon and Partners for Insuring Houses and Goods from Fire by a Water-Work, And to serve the Insured Houses and others with Water, at a Cheaper rate, in the Price of the Water and Insurance (1694); Hand in Hand Mutual Fire Insurance Office, Insurance from Loss by Fire by the Amicable Contributors, at Tom’s Coffee-House in St Martin’s-Lane (1696); Hand in Hand Mutual Fire Insurance Office, Deed of Settlement (1698); Hand in Hand Mutual Fire Insurance Office, A Proposal for Insuring Houses by the Friendly Society (c. 1700); Hand in Hand Mutual Fire Insurance Office, Union, or Double Hand-in-Hand Fire-Office for Insuring Goods and Merchandizes by Mutual Contribution in the way of the Hand-in-Hand Office for Houses (1716); Hand in Hand Mutual Fire Insurance Office, An Abstract of the Settlement of the Amicable Contributionship or Hand-in-Hand Fire Office, for Insuring Houses, etc., from Loss by Fire (1722); Salvage Corps Scheme, General Remark, No. 440 (1708); Sun Fire Office, Proposals set forth by the Company of London Insurers for insuring Houses, Moveable Goods, Merchandizes, Furniture and Wares from Loss and Damage by Fire (1710); Sun Fire Office, Proposals set forth by the Company of the Sun Fire-Office, in Threadneedle Street, behind the Royal Exchange, London, for Insuring Houses, moveable Goods, Merchandize, Furniture, and wares, from Loss and Damage by Fire, in any Part of Great Britain (1716); Sun Fire Office, Proposals From the Sun Fire Office, near the Royal Exchange, for insuring Houses and other Buildings, Goods, Wares, and Merchandize from Loss and Damage by Fire (1727); Charles Povey, The Secret History of the Sun-Fire-Office, dedicated to his Majesty’s Principal Ministers of State, and to the Governors, Directors and Trustees of all the Companies in Great Britain, also to the Guardians of Widows, Orphans, etc. (1733); Sun Fire Office, Proposals from the Sun Fire-Office in Cornhill, near the Royal-Exchange, For Insuring Houses, and other Buildings, Goods, Wares, and Merchandize, and Ships in Harbour, in Dock, or Building, and Craft, from Loss and Damage by Fire (1794); Sun Fire Office, Cornhill, near the Royal Exchange, and at Craig’s Court, Charing-Cross (1816); George Osmand, A Proposal: To the honourable the House of Commons, for raising great Sums of Money all over Great Britain, for the use of the Government, to the Benefit and Security of all those, that are any ways concerned (1711); Reasons humbly offered by the Sadlers-Hall-Society for their Establishment to insure Houses and Goods from Fire throughout England, with the Security of a Deposited (1720); A New-Year’s-Gift for the Directors, with some account of their plot against the two assurances (1721); George Griffin Stonestreet, The Portentious Globe: an enquiry into the Powers solicited from the Crown, under and Act of 39 Ceo III entitled, ‘An Act enabling His Majesty to grant a Charter of Incorporation’ (1800); ‘Observations on the Duties on Insurance’, Edinburgh Review (1832); Sun Fire Office, Instructions for the Agents of the Sun Fire Office (1807); 22 Geo III c. 48, An Act for charging a Duty on persons whose Property shall be insured against Loss by Fire (1782); George Coode, Revised Report on Fire Insurance Duties (1863); Association for the Abolition or Reduction of the Duty on Fire Insurance, The Fire Insurance Duty! History of the Agitation for Abolition or Reduction, and reply to Mr C Coode’s Blue Book revised report, etc. (1863); List of Fire Insurance Taxes and Duties 1694-1869 (1869)

Volume 2

R Stevens, Essay on Average (1822); 9 Geo IV c. 13, An Act for further regulating the payment of duties under the management of the Commissioners of Stamps on Insurances from loss or damage by fire (1828); R Atkins, ‘On the Settlement of Losses by Fire under Average Policies’ (1853); R Atkins, The Average Clause: hints on the settlement of claims for losses by fire under mercantile policies (1866); Samuel Brown, ‘On the Progress of Fire Insurance in Great Britain, as compared with other Countries’ (1857-8); Cornelius Walford, ‘Fires and Fire Insurance Considered under their Historical, Financial, Statistical, and National Aspects ..‘ (1877); Massachusetts Mutual Fire Insurance Company, Report of a Committee chosen to digest a plan and form rules and regulations for a mutual fire insurance company (1797); Rules and regulations, classes of hazards, and rates of premium, for insurance against fire: in the eastern, northern and middle states, and in the southern and western states (1846?); Asssociation of Fire Insurance Companies New York, The following Rules and Rates have been adopted by the Association of Fire Insurance Companies, at meetings held 2l June-3I September 1850 (1850); House of Commons, Returns of Duty on Fire Insurance (1838)

Volume 3

Frederick Hendricks, ‘Contributions to the History of Insurance, and of the Theory of Life Contingencies, with a Restoration of the Grand Pensionary De Wit’s Treatise on Life Annuities’ (1852-3); Edmund Halley, An Estimate of the degrees of mortality of mankind, drawn from curious tables of the births and funerals at the city of Breslaw; with an attempt to ascertain the price of annuities upon lives (1693); Edmund Halley, Some further considerations on the Breslaw Bills of Mortality (1693); Abraham de Moivre, Annuities on Lives (1725); Daniel Defoe, An Essay upon Projects (1697); Society of Assurance for Widows and Orphans, An Abridgement of the most Material Things in the Articles of Settlement, agreed and Subscrib‘d by the Several Members of the First Society of Assurance for Widows and Orphans (1699); A Scheme for erecting a Friendly Society for insuring lives (c. 1700); Traders’ Exchange House Office For Lives [Charles Povey], Proposals for raising a fund of two thousand pounds per annum by an amicable contribution of four thousand persons each paying 2s. 6d. per quarter (1706); Fair and Easie Proposals for Raising and Improving the Fortunes of Servants, by the Just and Amicable Societies (1710); Proposals of the Beehive Society for Insurance on the Births of Children (1710-11); The Hampshire Society, Farther proposals by the Hampshire Society, for Insurance on Marriages, on the Service of Clerks, Apprentices, and all other Servants, and on Wedding-Days, both by way of Claim, and Monthly Dividend (1711); The Royal British Society (1711); Short Account of the Rise and present State of the Amicable Society for a Perpetual Assurance Office, Together with the Manner, Terms and Advantages of their Insurance on Lives (1736); Society for Equitable Assurances, A Short Account of the Society for Equitable Assurances on Lives and Survivorships; Established by Deed, Inrolled in his Majesty’s Court of King’s Bench (1762)

Volume 4

14 Geo III c. 48, An Act for Regulating Insurance on Lives, and for prohibiting all such Insurances except in Cases where the Persons insuring shall have an Interest in the Life or Death of the Persons insured (1774); Sir Frederick Morton Eden, Observations on Friendly Societies, for The Maintenance of the Industrious Classes, during Sickness, Infirmity, Old Age and other Exigencies (1801); Francis E. Baily, An Account of the Several Life-Assurance Companies Established in London. Containing a view of their respective merits and advantages (1810); ‘Philanthropos’, Life Insurance. Important Facts, shewing the successive reductions that have taken place in the terms for the insurance of lives, and the probability of ultimate failure in some recent schemes (1814); Union Association Norwich, Tables and Observations explanatory of the Terms on Which Life Assurance is effected, Annuities Granted, and Endowments made for Children &c. (1814); Scottish Widows, Exposition of the Objects and Principles of the Scottish Widow’s Fund, and Life Assurance Society (1819); George Farren, Treatise on Life Assurance; in which the Systems and Practice of the Leading Life Institutions are Stated and Explained (1824); Charles A. Babbage, A Comparative View of the Various Institutions for the Assurance of Lives (1826); John Barrow, ‘Babbage on Life Assurance Societies’ (1827); I Mawman, ‘History and Principles of Life Assurance’ (1827)

Volume 5

John A Beaumont, Observations, Cautionary and Recommendatory, on Life Assurance (1841); Frederick Blayney, Life Assurances Societies Considered as to their Comparative Merits, &c. (1848); [Edwin Chadwick], An Article on the Means of Insurance (1828); Thoughts on the Means of Preventing Abuses in Life Assurance Offices (1835); Augustus de Morgan, ‘On the Application of Probabilities to Life Contingencies’, ‘On the Nature of the Contract of Insurance, and on the Risks of Insurance Offices in General’, ‘On the Adjustment of the Interests of the Different Members in an Insurance Office’, An Essay on Probabilities and on their Application to Life Contingencies and Insurance Offices (1838); Anon., ‘Review of Augustus de Morgan’ (1839)

Volume 6

Frederick Hendricks, ‘Memoir of the early History of Auxiliary Tables for the Computation of Life Contingencies’ (1850); John Augustus Beaumont, A Few Lines to the Managers of the Life Insurance Societies of the United Kingdom suggesting a remedy for the doubts and difficulties attendant upon the business of life insurance (1852); Samuel Brown, Defects in the Practice of Life Assurance and Suggestions for their Remedy (1848); Samuel Brown, ‘On the Sufficiency of the existing Companies for the Business of Life Assurance; with a List of the Companies at the end of 1852, their Guaranteed and Paid-up Share Capital, &c. (1854); W.Hannam, A Gift to the Uninsured: 30 short replies to 30 common objections (1857); Jonathon Cox, How to make a fortune! Adapted to all Classes of the Community. An Essay on Life Assurance (1857); Samuel Brown, ‘On the Investments of the Funds of Assurance Companies’ (1858); Arthur Hutcheson Bailey, ‘On the Principles on which the Funds of Life Assurance Societies should be Invested’ (1862); Samuel Brown, ‘Sketch of the recent Progress of the Assurance of Life and Property on the Continent’ (1851); Cornelius Walford, ‘History of Life Assurance in the United Kingdom’ (1885-7)

Volume 7

430 Eliz. c. 12, An Acte concerninge matters of Assurances, amongst Marchantes (1601); Francis Bacon, Speech on the Assurance Bill (1601); Francesco Roccus, ‘A Treatise on Insurance’ (1809); By the King, A Proclamation for the better Execution of the Office of making and Registring Policys of Assurances in London (1687); The Case of Assurances as they now Stand: And the Evil Consequences thereof to the Nation (c. 1700); Abstract of a scheme for an Office, and raising One or Two Millions Sterling by a Voluntary Subscription, for a Fund to Insure Ships and Merchandize at Sea, To be Rais’d, Managed and Employ’d as follows (1717); Reasons for Insuring Ships and Merchandize, by a Company or Corporation: Who may have a Large and Visible Stock, that cannot be parted with; But shall be constantly kept up, to make good the Losses of such Merchants and Owners as shall be Insured by them (1717); Mercers Hall, A List of the Names of the Subscribers for Raising the Summe of One Million Sterling as a Fund for Insuring Ships and Merchandize at Sea; Which Subscription was begun the l2th of August 1717 and completed the 16th of January 1717-18 (1717); Reasons humbly offer’d against the Societies of the Mines Royal, Mineral and Battery Works, who have undertaken to insure Ships and Merchandizes without a Charter (1719?); Reasons humbly offered by the Societies of Mines Royal, Mineral and Battery works, who insure Ships and Merchandize with the Security of a Deposited Joint Stock (1719); T. S., Letter to a Member of Parliament by a Merchant (1720); T. S., A Second Letter to a Member of Parliament by a Merchant (1720); The Special Report, from the Committee appointed to Inquire into and Examine the several Subscriptions for Fisheries, Insurances, Annuities for Lives, and all other Projects carried on by Subscription, in and about the Cities of London and Westminster, and to Inquire into all Undertakings for purchasing Joint-Stocks, or Obsolete Charters (1720); Reasons Humbly Offer’d Against the Bill intituled, A Bill to prevent some Inconveniences arising from the Insurances on Ships (1740s); ‘A Merchant’, An Essay to Prove that all Insurances on Ships and Goods at Sea, Beyond the Interests of the Assured, Ought to be Prohibited (1747); Corbyn Morris, An essay towards deciding the important question, whether it be a national advantage to Britain to insure the ships of her enemies? (1758); James Baflingall of Kirkcaldy, The Pernicious Effects of Sea Insurance (1834); James Bischoff, Marine Insurances: their Importance, their Rise, Progress and Decline, and their Claim to Freedom from Taxation (1836); William Witt Blackstock, The Historical Literature of Sea and Fire Insurance in Great Britain: A Conspectus and Bibliography (1910); John Tower Danson, Reasons for Establishing a Marine Insurance Company in Liverpool (1859)

Volume 8

British Parliamentary Papers, Report from the Select Committee on Marine Insurance (1810); Observations on the manner of conducting marine insurances in Great Britain; and on the report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons, to whom that subject was referred, including a few remarks on joint-stock companies (1810); Joseph Marryat, Observations on the Report of the Committee of Marine Insurance, with a few incidental remarks on a Pamphlet Lately Published, entitled ‘A Letter to Jasper Vaux, Esq.; to which is added copy of a report, proposed as an amendment to the report adopted by the committee on marine insurance (1810); Considerations on the Dangers of Altering the Marine Insurance Laws of Great Britain; in the manner proposed by a bill, brought into Parliament for that purpose; And On the impolicy of granting, without the most accurate Legislative Enquiry, several Applications to Parliament, for sanctioning certain self-erected Joint Stock Companies for Insurance of Lives, Insurance against Fire, and for the Purchase and Sale of Annuities (1811)

  • ‘The narrative that can be read between the lines of these volumes tells of humanity’s search for ways to guard against the potentially catastrophic consequences of loss. No library of a university with a school of business should be without them.’

    The Journal of Risk and Insurance

  • 'a treasure chest ’

    Business History

ISBNs: 9781851965274 978-1-85196-527-4

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