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The Tudor and Stuart port

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Coffee houses and insuring ships


Edward Lloyd

Lloyd's Coffee House frontage. On loan from Lloyd's of London.
View full size imagePart of the original frontage of Edward Lloyd's Coffee House. © NMM
During the 17th century the practice of insuring ships and cargoes against loss became more commonplace.

By the 1680s, Edward Lloyd's coffee house in Tower Street was seen as the best place in London to arrange an insurance deal.

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It was a favoured haunt of shipmasters and merchants, so it was a source of up-to-date information about vessel movements and cargoes.

Underwriters sitting in Lloyd's all day could:

Lloyd's List

Lloyd's List No 573
View full size imageA page from Lloyd's List, No. 573, February 1741. © NMM
In 1692 Lloyd began publishing a weekly newsletter, 'Ships Arrived at and Departed from several Ports of England, as I have Account of them in London [and] an Account of what English Shipping and Foreign Ships for England, I hear of in Foreign Ports'.

This was the forerunner to Lloyd's List. After the London Gazette, first published in 1665, this is the oldest continuously published newspaper in the world.

 

Risk takers

Lloyd's subscription room
View full size imageLloyd's Subscription Room, c. 1800. © NMM
The business flourished but, during the 1700s, attracted speculators willing to take wild risks.

So in 1769 the more sober financiers opened a new coffee house in Pope's Head Alley.

The Great Room at Lloyd's.
View full size imageThe Great Room at Lloyd's. © NMM
Five years later, the group transferred to the Royal Exchange. It stayed there until it moved to Leadenhall Street in the 1920s. Today, Lloyds is the world's leading insurance exchange and insures most of the planet's shipping.

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