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A history of lloyd’s. 17th century. 1688: Edward Lloyd’s coffee house is first mentioned in the London Gazette. It is frequented by ship owners and merchants seeking shipping news, which attracted those providing insurance for ships and cargo – the underwriters. 18th century.

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A history

of lloyd’s


17th century

1688:Edward Lloyd’s coffee house is first mentioned in the London Gazette. It is frequented by ship owners and merchants seeking shipping news, which attracted those providing insurance for ships and cargo – the underwriters


18th century

1760:Underwriters at Lloyd’s form the independent society that becomes Lloyd’s Register of Shipping

1771:Seventy-nine underwriters subscribe £100 each towards a new building and making them Lloyd’s first subscribers. Nine of these subscribers are elected to a Committee

1774: Lloyd’s moves to the Royal Exchange in Cornhill


19th century

1802: Lloyd’s provides £2,000 to establish lifeboats on Britain’s coasts. This was the beginning of the lifeboat service, operated since 1824 by the Royal National Lifeboat Institute

1811: Lloyd’s adopts a Trust Deed which allows the Committee to legally manage the affairs of the subscribers

1838: The Royal Exchange and many early Lloyd’s records are destroyed in a fire

1871: Lloyd’s Act of Parliament makes it illegal for anyone who is not a recognised underwriting member of Lloyd’s to sign his name to a Lloyd’s policy. From 1873, to further cement this new status, Lloyd’s adds a seal to every policy


19th century

1877: Cuthbert Heath, a prominent Lloyd’s underwriter, writes Lloyd’s first reinsurance contract for a fire insurance company, which subsequently provides cover for profit losses as a consequence of fire

1885: Cuthbert Heath writes the first insurance in the USA for damage caused by an earthquake

19th Century door plaque proving premises is fire insured


20th century

1906: San Francisco earthquake devastates the city and Cuthbert Heath promises to pay the policy holders in full irrespective of the terms of their policies

1908: Auditing of members’ accounts is introducedand they are obliged to pay premiums into trust funds which ensures that Lloyd’s is financially robust

1912: Lloyd’s writes the insurance policies for the Titanic and her sister ship, Olympic. When the Titanic sinks on 14 April, all claims are paid out in full within 30 days of the tragedy


20th century

1927: Lloyd’s Central Fund is created, and at the discretion of the Committee, it ensures valid claims are paid

1928: King George V and Queen Mary open Lloyd’s new building in LeadenhallStreet

1939: Lloyd’s America Trust Fund is established

1958: Lloyd’s moves to Lime Street andthe Queen Mother, along with Princess Margaret, open the premises


20th century

1982: The Lloyd’s Act of 1982 is put in place which introduces a new governing Council

1986: Her Majesty the Queen opens Lloyd’s new building in One Lime Street, designed by Richard Rogers

1994: Introduction of corporate capital

1997: Lloyd’s syndicates lead the cover for theHibernia oil platform which is believed to be the largest single risk ever placed in the international energy insurance market. The 650,000 tonne structure operates off Newfoundland



21st century

2001: Two hijacked planes are flown into the World Trade Center in New York. Lloyd’s was the biggest single insurer of both the World Trade Center and the two hijacked planes

2002: New franchise proposals approved and a Franchise board is appointed to ensure the marketplace is working to the highest standards



21st century

2005: Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma hit the Gulf of Mexico and Lloyd’s pay out $17bn to help rebuild the devastated region

2007: Lloyd’s open an onshore reinsurance operation in Shanghai



21st century

2011: The second costliest year for catastrophes on record for the insurance industry as a result of floods in Thailand and Australia, earthquakes in New Zealand and the tsunami in Japan. Lloyd’s will pay out approximately £13bn in claims



21st century

2012: Prime Minister David Cameron, Lloyd’s Chairman John Nelson and Lloyd’s CEO Richard Ward launch Vision 2025, a strategy to ensure Lloyd’s becomes the major global hub for specialist insurance and reinsurance



Traditions at lloyd’s

The Lutine Bell: In 1799 the HMS Lutine ship sunk on route from London to Germany, carrying a vast sum of gold and silver, insured by Lloyd’s underwriters. The Lutine Bell was recovered from the wreck and re-hung from the rostrum of the Lloyd's Underwriting Room where it still hangs today. It is traditionally rung to herald important announcements

Nelson at Lloyd’s: The Nelson Collection brings together an amazing assortment of valuable silverware, letters and other memorabilia associated with Horatio Nelson. Nelson was famous for his service in The Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars and died a hero at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. To show their gratitude for Nelson’s achievements, the merchants at Lloyd’s Coffee House raised funds to relieve the suffering of the wounded and bereaved. The Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund continues to provide support for ex-servicemen and women



Traditions at lloyd’s

Lloyd’s waiters: Lloyd’s waiters used to be sent down to the dockside to bring news of the new ships. The waiters can still be seen at Lloyd’s today outside the entrances to One Lime Street

The Adam Room: Originally designed by Robert Adam in 1763 as part of Bowood House, the Adam Room was inspired by a visit to Rome, leading Adam to create a look of classical antiquity.The room was purchased by Lloyd’s and now provides a striking contrast with the present Lloyd’s building



Find out more

There are more stories about the history of Lloyd’s on our website, click on the links to read more.

History of Lloyd’s buildings

Take a virtual tour of the 1986 building

Cuthbert Heath

San Francisco Earthquake

Lloyd’s and the titanic


The Nelson collection

Glossary of

Interactive timeline