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From the Great Fire of London to the invention of property insurance

A few years after the Great Fire of 1666, new insurance offices began to appear in London offering people a way to protect themselves from losses caused by fire. The first such scheme was launched by Nicholas Barbon and one of the oldest fire policies in existence, signed by him in 1682, is held at the ABI’s offices.

This policy, numbered 1402, appears to offer protection to a property owned by Robin Walker. An almost identical policy, numbered 1403, is currently being exhibited by the Museum of London as part of their Fire! Fire! exhibition to mark 350 years since the Great Fire of London.

Number 1402

This present Instrument of Policy of Insurance, witnesseth that Dr Nicolas Barbon and Samuell Tookie Gents (Gentlemen) in Consideration of the Sume of four pounds eleven shillings and eight pence in hand paid by Sr William Twisden Barronett for the Insuring of an House Scituate on the south side of Barbican now in the possession of Robin Walker being the second howse westward from Redrose (Red Cross) Streete and distant from thence to the middle of the said howse and fiftie five foote

For the Term of Thirty One yeares, from the Date hereof, Do desire, direct, and appoint, That the Trustees, for the time being for Houses and Lands, settled for the Insuring of Houses against Fire shall pay or satisfy unto the said Sr William Twisden his Executors or Administrators, [Or his or their Assigns, by Endorsement on this present Policy] the Sume of One hundred Pounds at the end of Two Months, after the said House shall be Burnt down, Demolished, or Damnifyed, by, or by Reason or Means of Fire; and so often as any New House, to be Built in the place thereof, shall be Burnt down, Demolished, or Damnifyed by, or by Reason or Means of Fire, within the said Term of Thirty One Years the like Sume of One hundred Pounds

If the said Dr Nicholas Barbon and Samuell Tookie and their Participants, or some, or one of them, his or their Heirs, Executors, their Administrators, Agents, or Assigns, shall not within the said Two Months, pay unto the said Sr William Twisden his Executors, or Administrators [or such his or their Assigns] the said Sume of One Hundred Pounds Or in case the said House, or such New House, be only Damnifyed: Then, if such House be not Repaired, and put in so good Condition as the same was before, at the Charge of the said Dr Nicholas Barbon and Samuell Tookie and their Participants, or some, or one of them, his or their Heirs, Executors, Administrators, Agents, or Assigns, within Two Months next, after such Damnification shall happen.

Witness our Hands and Seals, the Seventh day of August Anno Dom 1682 Annos Regni Regis Caroli 2di Anglior pr. Tricesimo quarto.

Nicholas Barbon
Sam. Tookise

Sealed and Delivered in the Presence of
John Bland
Samuell Edmond
William Dalton