Victorian London - Finance - Insurance - Maritime - Lloyds - Lloyd's and Lloyd's Register 

LLOYD'S. Subscription Rooms over the ROYAL EXCHANGE, where merchants, shipowners, and underwriters attend to obtain shipping intelligence, and where the business of marine insurance is carried on through the medium of underwriters. Lloyd's Coffee-house was one of the earliest establishments of the kind. It is referred to in a poem, printed in the year 1700, called The Wealthy Shopkeeper, or Charitable Christian.
"Then to Lloyd's Coffee House he never fails, 
To read the letters and attend the sales.
It is noticed in the Tatler, of Dec. 26th, 1710, (No. 268). Nothing is known of Lloyd, but either the original Lloyd, or a descendant, seems to have been living in 1750, for an Irregular Ode, entitled "A Summer's Voyage to the Gulph of Venice, in the Southwell Frigate, Capt. Manly, jun., Commander, is stated to be "Printed for Lloyd, well known for obliging the Public with the Freshest and Most Authentic Ship News, and Sold by A. More, near St. Paul's, and at the Pamphlet Shops in London and Westminster, MDCCL". Lloyd's Coffee-house was originally in Lombard-street, at the corner of Abchurch-lane, subsequently in Pope's-Head-alley, where it was called "New Lloyd's Coffee-house ;" but on Feb. 14th, 1774, it was removed to the north-west corner of the Royal Exchange, where it remained until the destruction of that building by fire. During the rebuilding, the subscribers occupied the South Sea House; but on the reopening of the Royal Exchange, they returned to their former locality. The principal business conducted at Lloyd's is that of marine insurance; but as it is the centre and focus of all intelligence, commercial and political, domestic and foreign, there is no one engaged in any extensive mercantile business in London who is not either a member or subscriber to Lloyd's, and thus the collective body represents the greater part of the mercantile wealth of the country. The entrance to Lloyd's is in the area, near the eastern gate of the Royal Exchange. A wide flight of steps leads to a handsome vestibule, ornamented by a marble statue of Prince Albert, by Lough, erected by subscription, to commemorate the laying of the first stone of the Royal Exchange by his Royal Highness, and a marble statue of the late William Huskisson, by Gibson, RA., presented by his widow. On the walls are the tablet, erected as a testimonial to the Times Newspaper, for the public spirit displayed by its proprietor in the exposure of a fraudulent conspiracy; and a monument, erected at the expense of the Governors of the Seamen's Hospital, to John Lyddehker, Esq.,
a South Sea ship-owner, who left to the Merchant Seamen's Society upwards of 50,000l. In this vestibule are the entrances to the three principal subscription-rooms-the Underwriters', the Merchants', and the Captains' Room. The Underwriters' Room is a spacious, handsome room, about 98 feet long and proportionably wide. On both sides and down the centre are arranged seats and tables, each containing places for six persons. Each under. writer has a particular seat, where he transacts his business. The insurance broker offers to him the "risk" for his consideration, and he either accepts or declines it, according as he thinks the "premium" adequate or insufficient. There are about 180 underwriters, but they do not all attend the room, as one individual frequently acts for two or three. To attain success in this branch of business, requires experience, knowledge, and prudence. The doors of this room open at 10 and close at 5. Immediately within the bar, at the entrance, are two high tables, containing large ledger- looking books; the one on the right hand recording the daily intelligence of the arrivals of all ships at their destined port; while that on the left hand is the casualty, or "double-line" book, where the losses and accidents are recorded, and which, after a heavy gale of wind, or the arrival of an Indian mail, is an object of much interest to the anxious underwriter. At the further end of the room is the Anemometer, an ingenious and delicate instrument, which keeps a perpetual record of the force and direction of the wind, and of the quantity of rain which has fallen, the machinery for which can be observed from Cornhill, above the roof of the Exchange. Beyond this is the reading-room, containing the lists of sailings and arrivals. Each list from the coast, as soon as it is received, is pasted on a board, so as to be easily accessible, while the foreign lists are pasted into separate books, appropriated for each port, so that the shipping intelligence at any port in the world can be obtained at a minute's notice. Walters are stationed in this room, who place on the tables any of the lists which the subscriber may require. The extent of information obtained by Lloyd's may be estimated by the fact, that the number of agents in the United Kingdom is 151, and of foreign agents, 277. From each of these intelligence is received by every mail, if there is either an arrival, a sailing, or a casualty to communicate; so that the average number of letters received daily exceeds 150. The intelligence thus obtained is extracted by the clerks in the secretaries' office, forthwith printed on slips, distributed in different parts of the room, and sent to the various insurance offices that contribute towards the annual payment of 200l. for this information. The summary of the day's intelligence is published in the evening in "Lloyd's List, and is thus circulated through the country and in foreign parts. Lloyd's List was first established about the year 1726. The Merchants' Room is a spacious apartment, round the walls of which are placed tables and shelves, containing files of most of the provincial and foreign newspapers, unequalled in any other establishment. The Captains' Room is appropriated to the coffee-house department, where refreshments of every description can be obtained at a moderate and fixed charge ; and where the sales of ships and shps' stores take place. In the upper floor are small committee-rooms, washing-rooms, and a room in which is deposited a most extensive and valuable collection of maps ar,d charts, presents from the British and most of the foreign governments. The affairs of Lloyd's are managed by a committee of nine members. The chairman is elected annually: he is generally a merchant of eminence and a member of Parliament. There is a secretary and eight clerks, eight waiters, and five messengers. The expenses amount to upwards of 10,000l. per annum. The income is derived from the subscriptions of about 1900 members and subscribers, and substitutes ; the payments from the insurance and other public companies; the advertising of ships' bills, and the sale of Lloyd's List. Each member pays 25l. admission, and an annual subscription of 4l. 4s.; but if an underwriter, 10l. 10s. Annual subscribers to the whole establishment pay four guineas, or if to the Merchants' Room only, then two guineas. The admission is by ballot of the committee, on the recommendation of six subscribers. The members of Lloyd's have ever been distinguished for acts of public spirit and benevolence. They voted, in 1802, the sum of 2000l. for the establishment of life-boats on the coast And when, in 1803, the fear of foreign invasion spread alarm through the country, the members met, and passed a spirited declaration, expressive of their determination to defend their King and country; and, at the same time, "to set an example to the public bodies throughout the United Kingdom, they opened a subscription for the relief of those sufferers and their families who might be injured or sustain loss during the war, when, independently of individual subscriptions, they voted 20,000l. consols from the funds of the House. In a fortnight there was added to this 70,312l. 7s. by individual members, which formed the foundation of the "Patriotic Fund, which has distributed amongst - the wounded, and the widows and families of the killed, a sum amounting to upwards of 700,000l. In 1809, the subscribers added 5,000l. to their former donation; and in 1813, 10,000l. They gave 5000l. consols to the London Hospital, and 10,000l. to the Waterloo subscription, besides numerous smaller sums to other useful institutions. They reward all cases, either by medals or with money, where life is hazarded in attempting to save the lives of others from shipwreck.

LLOYD'S REGISTER OF BRITISH AND FOREIGN SHIPPING, No. 2, WHITE LION COURT, CORNHILL., was estabfished in the year 1834. Its object was to obtain a knowledge of the condition of the mercantile shipping, by means of careful surveys to be made by competent surveyors, and thus to secure an accurate classification according to the real and intrinsic worth of the ship. The affairs of the Society which instituted this book are managed by a committee consisting of twenty-four members, namely, eight merchants, eight shipowners, and eight underwriters. Six members (two of each of the description just mentioned) retire annually, but are eligible to be re-elected. The right of election rests equally with the committee for Lloyd's, and the committee of the General Shipowners' Society. Hence it is obvious that the committee, so constituted, is an independent body, and does not form part of "Lloyd's, although it is too generally considered that it does. About the year 1760, at a time when no registry existed, and when mercantile shipping was comparatively small, some individuals deemed it desirable to set about such a classification as would afford the underwriters, and others interested, accurate information regardng that important branch of property. The book then originated, at a time when the very name of "Lloyd's was hardly known beyond the precincts of Lombard-street, went on for several years, until about 1798, when the arbitrary and overbearing conduct of some of its conductors gave such cause for dissatisfaction, that a second book was set up. This was obviously started by and for the benefit of ship-owners, but like its progenitor, owing its origin to a few individuals, it was equally devoid of the sanction of public authority. The whole system having, however, at length been denounced as an utter failure, the mercantile community, about the year 1824, united in an endeavour to introduce an improved system of classification, founded on the principle of intrinsic merit, and thereby making the real efficiency of the ship the basis of the character to be given her. The feeling which then generally prevailed was strongly expressed in a resolution passed at that time to the following effect, "That the existing system of classing shipping in the Books at Lloyd's operates injuriously towards the ship-owner, tends to mislead the skipper and underwriter, (in numerous instances), encourages the building of inferior ships, and prevents essential repairs, whereby tIme efficiency and reputation of the mercantile marine is materially affected, to the prejudice of all the parties concerned. These were the grievances to be removed, and for which purpose, after several important meetings had been held, the present society was successfully established in the year 1834. The characters of ships, as given in the register-book, and annually printed for the use of subscribers, are ascertained by careful and minute surveys being held upon them by disinterested and well-paid officers, upon whose reports (which are open to the inspection of all parties interested in the propet.ty) the characters to which they are entitled are justly and impartially assigned.

Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850