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Historical research on the Equitable Life Archive

There has been much research in the profession's journals about the place of the Society for Equitable Assurances and its early pioneers in actuarial and insurance history

To offer a lead and introduction to the archive, a selection of references to papers in the Journal of the Institute of Actuaries (JIA) and Transactions of the Faculty of Actuaries (TFA) and books are listed below with links to the full text of papers online.

Origins of the ‘Actuary’ in life insurance and earlier roles

  • Ogborn, M.E. (1950). The Actuary in the Eighteenth Century. Proceedings of the Institute of Actuaries Centenary Assembly. (Cambridge University Press, 1950).
  • Ogborn, M.E. (1956). The professional name of actuary. JIA 82: 233-246.
  • Lewin, C.G. (2003). Pensions and insurance before 1800. (Tuckwell Press, 2003). (The author presents an alternative explanation of how 'actuary' became the title for the modern role known today, page 383.).

History of the Society

  • Walford, C. (1875). The History of the Equitable Society, […], from the date of its projection in 1756 down to 1873. (London: Charles and Edwin Layton, 1875). Reprinted from the Insurance Cyclopaedia. (Copy acquired in the Archive).
  • Ogborn, M.E. (1962). Equitable Assurances: The Story of Life Assurance in the Experience of the Equitable Life Assurance Society 1762-1962 (London: Allen & Unwin, 1962).
  • Review of Equitable assurances by Maurice E Ogborn. Review by A.H. Rowell. JIA (1962) 88: 387-389.
  • Review of Equitable assurances by Maurice E Ogborn. Review by R.L. Gwilt. TFA (1962-1964) 28: 104-110.

Originators of the Society and leading advisers

  • De Morgan, A. (1868). Some account of James Dodson F.R.S. JIA 14: 341-364.
  • Sibbett, T.A. (1990-1991). Richard Price 1723-1791: preacher, philosopher and actuary. Fiasco 122 January (1990): 4-6; 123 February (1990): 6-8; The Actuary April (1991): 25-28.

Actuaries to the Society

Contemporary reports and studies of the Society's mortality experience

  • Elderton, W.P. (1933). William Morgan F.R.S., 1750-1833. JIA 64: 364-365. [Exposition of tables in manuscript by William Morgan: ‘Comparison of the Decrements of Life in the Society with those of the Northampton Table 1790’, ‘Comparison of the Decrements of Life as above for 29 years from 1768 to 1796’, ‘‘Comparison of the Decrements of Life in the Society with those in Dodson’s & Halley’s & Simpson’s Tables’ ’Surplus stock of the Equitable Society determined on January 1st 1776 by finding the seperate [sic] Interests of the Members in their respective Policies &c. &c.’]
  • Report: Equitable Society. JIA (1848-1851) 1: 95-100.
  • Report: Equitable Life Assurance Society. JIA (1852-1853) 3: 349-354.
  • Report: Equitable Life Assurance Society. JIA (1853-1854) 4: 379-380.
  • Morgan, W. [1831-1897, grandson of William Morgan, 1750-1833] (1864-1866) Correspondence: The D, N, &c. columns of the Equitable Experience. JIA 12: 235-238.
  • William Palin Elderton and Maurice E Ogborn (1943). The mortality of adult males since the middle of the eighteenth century as shown by the experience of life assurance companies. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society 106(1): 1-31.
  • Ogborn, M.E. and Storr-Best, R.H. (1959). Arthur Morgan's mortality experience. JIA 85: 300-309 [on the consolidated experience of lives assured 1762-1829]

Books and papers feature exposition of the Society's archives

  • Report in 1761 of the Attorney and Solicitor-General on the petition for a charter for the Equitable Life Assurance Society. JIA (Assurance Magazine) (1848-1851) 1(2): 89*-92*.(Transcript of Solicitor-General’s initial rejection of the application for a charter establishing the Society for Equitable Assurances.)
  • Institute of Actuaries (1948). Catalogue of exhibition illustrating the history of actuarial science in Great Britain with special reference to the Institute of Actuaries, 21-25 June 1948. Proceedings of the Institute of Actuaries Centenary Assembly. (Cambridge University Press, 1950).(Several manuscripts and items then belonging to the Equitable Life Assurance Society were lent to this exhibition.)
  • Thomas, D.O. and Peach, B. (eds.) (1983). The correspondence of Richard Price. Volume I. July 1748 – March 1778. (Cardiff: University of Wales, 1983). ‘Appendix. Calendar with extracts of the correspondence of Richard Price and John Edwards, Actuary of the Equitable Society, contained in MS Letterbook belonging to the Equitable Life Assurance Society.’
  • Haberman, S. and Sibbett, T.A. (eds.) (1995). History of actuarial science: Volume V. Life insurance. (London: William Pickering, 1995). Includes:
    • James Dodson, "First lecture on Insurances" [manuscript] (1756)
    • [Edward Rowe Mores], 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 at Westminster. London, 1762.
    • William Morgan, "Comparison of the Decrements of Life in the Society with those of the Northampton Table 1790", "Comparison of the Decrements of Life as above for 29 years from 1768 to 1796", "Comparison of the Decrements of Life in the Society with those in Dodson’s & Halley’s & Simpson’s Tables", "Surplus stock of the Equitable Society determined on January 1st 1776 by finding the seperate [sic] of the Members in their respective Policies &c. &c." (Manuscript reproduced in {link to:}William Morgan F.R.S., 1750-1833{/documents/william-morgan-frs-1750-1833}, JIA 64 (1933): 364-365.)
    • William Morgan, The Doctrine of Annuities and Assurances on Lives and Survivorships, stated and explained by William Morgan… To which is added, An Introduction addressed to the Society… By the Reverend Dr. [Richard] Price., 1779.

Selected reference works on actuarial and insurance history

  • Anderson, J.G. (1940). The birthplace and genesis of life assurance and other essays. With an introduction by Sir William Palin Elderton. 2nd edition. (London: Frederick Muller, 1940).
  • Cox,P.R. and Storr-Best, R.H. (1962). Surplus in British life assurance: actuarial control over its emergence and distribution during 200 years. (Cambridge University Press, 1962).
  • Surplus: two hundred years of actuarial advance. JIA 89: 19-60. (A presentation on their book by the authors)
  • Raynes, H.E. (1964). A history of British insurance. 2nd edition. (London: Isaac Pitman, 1964).
  • Haberman, S. and Sibbett, T.A. (eds.) (1995). History of actuarial science. (London: William Pickering, 1995). [Facsimile presentation of transcripts of original texts in ten volumes].
  • Lewin, C.G. (2003). Pensions and insurance before 1800. (Tuckwell Press, 2003).

The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) is keen to invite and encourage new researchers to this field and welcomes those researching for expositions on wider history and related topics. Actuaries with experience of historical texts would be happy to share their experiences and offer assistance with research and writing articles.

Contact Details

For any library enquiries please contact:

libraries@actuaries.org.uk

We try to respond to email queries within one working day. Researcher access to historical resources may require notice in advance of visit in order to retrieve items from storage.