Annals of the Scottish
Widows Fund Life Assurance Society Chapter V
THE result of the first investigation of the
affairs of the Society became widely known. Not only had the directors
been able to declare one of the largest bonuses hitherto added to the
policies by any Life Assurance Office, but they had also laid up a large
guarantee fund, and the measure of public confidence secured became
evident in the rapid increase in the number and amount of new proposals
for insurance. It was natural that members and managers of the Scottish
Society should compare the results of their first ten years' business with
that of their foster parent, the Equitable. Making every allowance for the
increased wealth of the country in 1826 as compared with 1774, the
eleventh years of existence respectively of the Scottish Widows' Fund and
the Equitable Society, allowing also for the greater familiarity with the
benefits of life insurance which the public had acquired in the interval
of fifty-two years between those dates, and setting against these
favourable factors the inferiority of Edinburgh in wealth and population
to London, there was good material for satisfaction in the relative
progress of the two societies during their youth. In 1774 the Equitable
had a premium income of £9500, representing an insured capital sum of
£230,000. In 1826 the premium income of the Scottish Widows' had risen to
£17,500, representing insurances to the amount of £493,000.
From this time forward the history of the Scottish
Society has been one of uninterrupted progress. The field in which, at the
outset, it enjoyed a complete monopoly was soon to be entered by many
competing institutions. Whereas in the year x800 there were only six life
offices in the United Kingdom, in 1826 there were forty-one. Nevertheless
business has never ceased to flow in upon the Scottish Widows' in annually
increasing volume. The advantages of the mutual system of insurance,
whereof the Scottish public showed so little readiness to avail themselves
when it was first brought to their notice, became more and more fully
understood as claims emerged and were settled by payments largely in
excess of the sums originally assured. Before the Scottish Widows' Fund
led the way in a new departure, the limited degree to which life insurance
had made way in Scotland was owing to the activity of the agents of
English proprietary offices, dividing the bulk of their profits among
shareholders, insured persons being entitled to little or nothing more
than the sums set forth in their policies. It took several years to
convince the public that here was a Society dividing its entire profits
periodically among those who insured with it. This feature in its
Constitution the directors did not fail to bring plainly to the attention
of all classes by their agents and by advertisement. Examples of the kind
of statement which they were able to issue from time to time may be quoted
by anticipation from a circular issued by them as on 31st December 1864,
being the day on which the Society completed its fiftieth year.
The whole profits are divided among members,
including the Guarantee Fund, which is credited to each policy in
proportion to its value, and is payable at death, with interest, in
addition to the sum assured and bonuses, as in the following example of
sums payable under policies of £1000, taken at the age of thirty.
And whereas there might still lurk in the minds of
uninstructed persons a suspicion that the aggregate of premiums paid
might, in some cases, be equal to or greater than the sum assured, even
with bonus additions, the following table was prepared setting forth the
benefit actually due in 186 upon policies for £1000 taken out at the age
The thread of narrative, interrupted by this
digression, must now be resumed; but it would be irksome to the reader to
follow the progress of the Society step by step and year by year. A
general view of the growth of its business and the modification of its
methods in accordance with accumulated experience may best be obtained by
a précis of a few extracts from the minute-books in successive years.
4th December.—Mr. Lyall laid before the Court
an offer by Mr. Gibson Craig 1 on the part of the trustees of Mrs. General
Forbes to sell the house and premises in St. Andrew Square possessed by
her late husband for £7000. The offer was referred to a committee, who,
after consulting Mr. Thomas Hamilton, architect, recommended that it be
accepted. The recommendation was confirmed by a special General Court on
the 14th, and the purchase was concluded before the end of the month.
During the first ten years of the Society's
existence the directors received no remuneration for their services. In
1825 a weekly fee of half a guinea apiece was granted to each of the five
directors who were told off in rotation to attend the meetings of the
Court. This modest allowance was now supplemented by a fee to members
placed on the Signing Committee in rotation.
9th April.-Three Directors to attend every Thursday
at 3 P.M. to examine policies and sign certificates. The Court authorise
the Manager to take credit in his weekly accounts for the sum of fifteen
shillings sterling, as to be divided equally among the said three
Directors thus summoned, or such of them as may attend.
Foreign travel was still regarded with extreme
suspicion, any person going beyond the limits of the United Kingdom being
considered to expose himself to extra risk. The following letter from an
insured member came before the Court for consideration.
15th October. - In regard to my prospective visit to
America New York and Philadelphia would be my headquarters, but in order
to see something of the country I contemplate a rapid tour, comprehending
Baltimore, Washington, and, it may be, Richmond in Virginia; then Norfolk,
and thence to New York by the Steam Boat. From New York, up the river
Hudson to Albany, thence by the New Canal to Lake Erie and the falls of
Niagara, then down the St. Laurence to Montreal and Quebec, and thence by
Lakes Champlain and George to New York again. These points, you will no
doubt observe, are all in the civilised parts of the Country, and from the
prevalence of Steam Boat communications, as well as from the nature of the
Public vehicles as described by all Travellers, I apprehend there is less
danger in journeying over this route than there is in the Stage Coaches of
England. Perhaps a district of Country may best be defined by latitude and
longitude—I shall therefore reduce my proposal to the following definite
enquiry, for the consideration of the Directors. What additional Premium
would be exigible on my life Policy of £1000 for permission to sail to
North America, and traverse any part thereof between 36° 30' and 48° of
North latitude, and between the Atlantic Ocean and the eightieth degree of
West longitude from Greenwich, and that for the period of one year?
The decision of the Court was that an addition of 3
per cent on the sum assured should be made to the writer's premium "in
respect of the extra risk incurred."
November.—The Earl of Fife, desiring to cross to the Continent by any port
between Texel and Brest, instead of what was considered the safer route to
ports between Ostend and Havre, was charged only - per cent extra; but for
the voyage from Harwich to Gothenburg in Sweden £1 1s. per cent was added,
and the same for the return voyage.
i9th 1pril.—An officer of the army under orders for
Gibraltar having applied for license and terms, the Court charged extra f
: is. per cent on the sum assured for sea risk out and home; /a ios. per
cent for military risk in time of peace, to be increased to £5 in case of
war in Europe. These additions to premiums to cover risks of fishing in
the Bay and of shooting excursions in Barbary.
On reflection it occurred to the Manager that the
Court in this case had been more indulgent than was safe, so he consulted
no fewer than six English offices on the subject. The replies he received
illustrate the practice observed by assurance offices at this time.
The Provident Life charged extra 50 per cent on the
usual premium to cover peace risks and occasional fishing in the Bay, but
would not permit the officer going to the coast of Barbary on any terms.
The Pelican charged the same, but allowed landing in
Barbary on addition of 3 per cent to the increased premium.
The Atlas charged £2 : 2s. extra on the sum assured
for peace risks and fishing in the Bay, to be increased to £3 3s, upon
landing in Africa.
The Globe fixed £2 per
cent as covering peace risks, but would not allow going to Barbary.
The Royal Exchange Office charged £5 per cent extra
for foreign service, returning him £2 per cent if he did not go to Egypt,
and a further £1 per cent if he did not go to Greece, thus reducing the
extra payment to £2 per cent, with permission to go to certain parts of
Barbary and to fish in the Bay.
Office required only £1 per cent extra for military service in Gibraltar,
but could not allow the officer either to fish in the Bay or go to
With these advices before them the
directors rescinded their order of 19th April, and, while reducing the
peace service extra to £2 per cent, with permission to fish in the Bay,
they laid veto upon landing in Africa. The extra premium was to be
increased to £5 "exigible on the declaration of war or the commencement of
actual hostilities, whichever event may first happen."
7th July.—Mr. Robertson, having drawn the attention
of the Court to the very thin attendance at the stated quarterly court
summoned for the 5th inst. (a sufficient number to constitute a quorum not
having been present), and having stated the great disadvantage that might
possibly arise to the Society from a recurrence of the same thing, moved
that at all future extraordinary Courts of the Society a sum not exceeding
Five Guineas should be equally divided among such Directors as might be
present at a quarter past the hour named in the notice as the hour of
This resolution was afterwards
confirmed by the Extraordinary Court.
and 15th September.—Members applying for license to visit Hamburgh and
Rotterdam respectively, received the same on payment of 1/2 per cent extra
17th November.—The extra annual
rate for an Indian Civil Servant was fixed at £4 per cent, exclusive of
March.—Ten shillings per cent extra charged on the premiums of a member
for risk of his profession as Civil Engineer.
Sir William Maxwell of Monreith, going to reside in
Nice, desired to have his yacht of 48 tons, under command of "an
experienced lieutenant of the Navy," for cruising in the Mediterranean.
License was granted on payment of £1 per cent extra premium ; but this was
afterwards increased to £1 10s. to cover risk of cruising on the coast of
15th June.—Mr. David Wardlaw,
founder of the Society, applied for license "to pass by a steam-vessel
from Dublin to Bordeaux," which was granted on an extra payment of £5,
being 10s. per cent on the sum assured—£1000.
17th August.—The request by a Glasgow manufacturer, insured for £1000, to
be allowed to pay his premiums half-yearly was declined, "no provision
being made for such payments by the Articles of Constitution."
28th September.—A lady proceeding to Jamaica, "of which island she was a
native," was required to pay £8 : 8s. per cent on the sum assured as extra
The auditor drew attention to the rapid
increase in the volume of the Society's business, which had rendered the
remuneration of the General Manager wholly disproportionate to the work
devolving upon him. Accordingly a committee was appointed on 26th October
to examine and report. From 1815 to 1825 the Manager had been entitled to
two-thirds of the Expense Fund (made up of 2 1/2 per cent on annual and
single payments and the entry money of members calculated at los. per cent
on the sums assured), the remaining third being set aside for expense of
printing, advertising, etc.
At the investigation in
1825, while the Manager continued to draw 2 1/2 per cent on premiums and
single payments, he was allotted £400 a year in lieu of the entry
money—for himself and his clerks. The Medical Officer, whose remuneration
had been fixed in 1819 at half a guinea for each examination, from 1825
onward was paid fifty guineas a year to cover all professional services,
and the Auditor's fee was fixed at sixty guineas annually.
5th October.-The Committee on Revision of Salaries reported, with the
following recommendations: The Manager to sit rent free; "the premises
being devoted to the business of the Office; the taxes, repairs, etc.
shall be paid by the Society."
The Manager to have a
fixed salary of £800 a year (in lieu of the former allowance of two-thirds
of the Expense Fund), with a further sum not exceeding £380 "to pay the
necessary efficient clerks of the Office, inclusive of junior clerks and
occasional aid. In fixing this allowance to the Manager in name of clerks,
for the time to come, it shall hereafter be kept distinctly in view that
the entire management in future shall be by him and them alone, and that
accordingly he will take care that one or more of the clerks in the office
for the time shall be sufficiently efficient, discreet, and intelligent to
act as his assistant. This Committee are clearly of opinion that any
officer on the establishment, whether by the name of Secretary or
Assistant Manager, permanently, is quite uncalled for at present, and
"Directors' Allowances.- It is inexpedient
at present to suggest anything in the way of addition to the small
allowances under the head of Directors ; the zeal constantly manifested by
that body to discharge faithfully and regularly their duty rendering any
stimulus unnecessary. This matter may, in the opinion of the Committee,
therefore safely remain on its present footing till next period of
26th October.—A proposal was made to the
Crown Life Assurance Office, London, that the Society should be allowed to
re-assure with them for sums in excess of the £4000 limit on single lives,
as "we have occasionally, I may almost say frequently, offers of assurance
for £5000." This proposal was agreed to by the Crown Life; but the rates
of the London Union Office were found to be so much lower than those of
the Crown that on 7th December the first reassurances were effected with
the London Union, being for £1000 each for a period of seven years.
9th December.—The Manager of the London Union Company wrote objecting to
the practice of the Scottish Widows' Fund granting to the assignee of a
policy all its benefits, even if the insured person committed suicide.
"This is, in every view of it, objectionable, and is not granted I
believe, by any London Society. . . . A policy once issued, I have ever
understood, can only be assigned with all its covenants and declarations,
and to alter any of the averments would be to destroy the bond altogether.
Morally speaking, it is right to retain this important clause. The usual
permission without special endorsement is granted by this Company for sea
risk during peace in decked vessels between Texel and Brest: you go as far
as the Elbe."
28th.—At this time persons proposing to
insure for £5000 received policies for £4999 19s., because "there were no
blank policies at present in the Manager's possession stamped with the
necessary duty of £5."
A gentleman going to Canada "to take charge of an official situation under
the Crown" was charged £3 per cent extra for the first year, and £1 per
cent per annum thereafter.
19th - The master of the ship
Friendship of Aberdeen received license to make voyages within European
waters on payment of £4. per cent extra on the sum assured—£500.
10th May.—It was agreed to lend a gentleman £29,000 to pay his son's
debts, interest at 4 per cent, and the debt not to be called up within
seven years. To enable them to make this loan, the Directors authorised
the Manager to arrange with the Royal Bank of Scotland for an overdraft of
£30,000 at 4 per cent, the same to be repaid by instalments from day to
14th June.—The Directors remitted to the Manager
consideration of the expediency of remodelling the agency in Glasgow and
establishing a local Board of Directors there. Proposals for establishing
agents in Greenock and Forres were remitted to the Quarterly Court. It was
reported that life assurance was not properly understood in Elgin and the
21st.—The extra premium for
residence in the Swan River Settlement, Australia, was fixed at £3 : 3s.
per cent for the first year, and £2 2s. thereafter.
July.—The question of the Glasgow agency was settled by obtaining a lease
of premises in Miller Street at a rent of £25, and the appointment of Mr.
Mackenzie as agent, with half the time of his clerk to be given to the
Society. All expenses to be debited to a new account entitled the Glasgow
Agency Expense Fund, which, on the other hand, should be credited one-half
of the usual allowances to the agent, "leaving the agent only the other
half until these expenses were fully liquidated."
a modest beginning; neither the expectation of new business being
exorbitant nor the remuneration of the agency staff extravagant.
"Supposing the new assurances to be done to amount annually to £35,000,
being only about a sixth part of what was done at the head office last
year, the agent's allowance on this would amount to
of which one-half [all that the agent was to receive until the expense of
setting up the agency was liquidated] is within a trifle of £60. Although
this amount of business might not be transacted the first year, there
seems no reason to despair, or even doubt, of this amount being done on an
average of a few years."
30th August.—.-The Court agreed
to a proposal for an annuity on a larger scale than any they had yet
accepted, viz, that of Sir James Dalyell, aged 56, who desired so to
invest £12,000. His agents, in making the proposal, wrote: "He certainly
does not look very robust- like, but on the whole he enjoys good health,
and has no idea that he is to die soon." The annuity was fixed at £500.
15th November.—On the approach of the septennial investigation of the
affairs of the Society the question arose as to the principle whereon the
auditor, Mr. Patrick Cockburn, was to proceed in valuing the securities
held by the Society—were they to be taken at cost price or at the current
market quotation of the day? In an elaborate report Mr. Cockburn rejected
both these methods as unsound, and recommended that a valuation be arrived
at "by converting the revenue derived from all such stocks or property
into 4 per cent capital. According to this rule each £100 of Government
Stocks would be valued as follows:-
mariner, aged 19, was charged £5 per cent extra on £500 assured, "to cover
risk of service on board of ship, without restriction of nation or
climate." A captain in the Royal Navy admitted on the same terms on 24th
15th.—A certain judge, having in prospect "of
perhaps being obliged at some future time to retire from the bench with a
diminished income," asked whether the Society would allow him to pay
increased premiums for ten years, freeing him from all payment after that
period. The Court decided that assurances by limited payments should be
accepted, and directed the actuary to prepare tables accordingly.
8th August.—A certificate of the death of a member
came before the Court, signed by one Dr. Fell, namesake of the subject of
Tom Brown's famous epigram. The said doctor stated that the insured person
died "without disease being located to any particular organ of the animal
machine. . . . The proximate cause of death was a sudden change in the
5th September.—The Court voted £31 : 10s. to
be expended in illuminating the premises on the 8th, being the Coronation
of King William IV.
26th.—Sir Walter Scott received
license to sail for Malta or Naples in H.M.S. Barham on payment of an
extra premium of los. per cent on £3000 assured. On 19th March 1832 this
license was extended to cover the coast of Greece and all Mediterranean
3rd October.—There was laid before the Court
certificate of the death of Mr. David Wardlaw, founder of the Society,
from asthma. Insured in December 1814 for £1000, Mr. Wardlaw's executors
were found entitled to receive payment of £1392 6s. The Court then passed
the following resolution
10th October. —Pensioner Thomas Ross, aged 42, late Non-commissioned
Officer of the Royal Artillery, having lost both legs below the knee at
Waterloo by a cannon-shot, was assured for £150 at the ordinary rate.
24th. -The Manager brought before the Court the question, as affecting
life assurance, "arising from the advancing progress of the disease called
Cholera Morbus," asking them to consider what might be the effect of alarm
on the part of the public in stimulating proposals for insurance. To meet
the additional risk involved, he submitted a table framed on the principle
that if the assured person should die of cholera in the first, second, or
third year after insuring, the assurance should be held on the footing of
having been made by a single payment and so accounted for to the
representatives of the deceased. In this way, suppose a person aged 30
were to insure for £1000 payable at death, the ordinary annual premium
would be £24.91, whereas the same benefit would be assured for a single
payment of £393.04. If such a person died in the first, second, or third
year after insuring, his representatives would only be entitled to k1000,
less the amount of a single payment and plus the amount of annual premiums
The question having been remitted to a committee,
who entered into consultation with other Life Offices, it was, after much
consideration, recommended that, while existing assurances of course could
not be modified, new assurances should be made with an addition of £1 per
cent on the sums assured to cover cholera risk, provided that assurances
at ordinary rates might continue to be effected, excluding cholera risk.
All this on condition that all the other Scottish Life Offices should
agree to act similarly. As it was found that some of them would not so
agree, the proposal was dropped, and it was determined to carry on
business in every respect as usual (10th February 1832). The Court,
however, subscribed two hundred guineas to be allocated in support of
cholera hospitals by the Boards of Health in the principal towns of
23rd January.—The fee of
directors attending Ordinary Courts was fixed at 7s. 6d.
6th February.—A gentleman, aged twenty- two, going to reside in Jamaica as
a planter, was charged an extra premium of eight guineas per cent on the
sum assured on his life-£300.
A long letter from Charles
Hope, Lord President of the Court of Session, remonstrated against the
intention which he had been "credibly informed" was entertained by the
Society of voiding the policy on his life on account of his having visited
patients in the cholera hospital. The Manager was directed to inform the
Lord President "that no such question or doubt had ever been stated or
thought of at the Board, the directors being quite satisfied, in so far as
regards parties already insured, that their vested rights cannot be in-
fringed or in any way affected by the supervening risk of cholera."
20th.—The death of Mr. Robert Mitchell of Musselburgh was certified, he
being the first member of the Society to die from cholera. He was insured
for £Soo, increased by bonus addition to £567.
May.—The master of the smack Duke of Buccleuch, trading between Leith and
London, was assured for £600, an extra premium of three guineas per cent
on that sum being charged for sea risk.
receiving intimation of the death of the Society's consulting physician,
Dr. Andrew Duncan, the Court passed the following resolution:-
Dr. Andrew Duncan (1773-1832) enjoyed a European reputation, and "few
foreigners came to Edinburgh unprovided with an introduction to him ; his
foreign correspondence was also extensive." In 1803 he brought out The
Edinburgh New Dispensary, which passed through ten editions before 1823,
having been translated into French and German, and published several times
in the United States. The "other and more elevated sphere," referred to in
the minute above quoted, was the chair of Materia Medica in Edinburgh
University, which he occupied till his death.
Duncan's life being insured for £1200, the total benefit received by his
representatives through bonus additions was £1469 11 : 10.
5th June.—Dr. James Begbie was appointed Medical Officer to the Society.
11th.—A piece of plate, value fifty guineas, was by order of the Court
awarded to Dr. Combe, who had acted as Medical Officer ad interim, pending
the appointment of Dr. Begbie.
Mr. Ellis, a director of
the Society, having proposed that policies should be issued without
profit-sharing rights, the matter was referred to a committee to prepare a
table of premiums correspondingly reduced.
committee on "Agencies" handed in their report, containing, inter alia,
the following notice of growing competition by other Scottish Life
It is unnecessary that your Committee should
trace in any great detail the train of circumstances which, after a few
years, began, at first slowly and gradually, but latterly with a very
accelerated and rapid progress to change the position of their Society
from that of an establishment possessing a monopoly of public favour as
the sole parent Institution in Scotland for life assurance, to that of an
Institution engaged in busy competition with numerous and active rivals,
and dependent for its continued success, not merely on the superiority of
its principles, but on the degree of energetic activity by which that
superiority might be most steadily brought before, and kept under the view
of; the public.
Agencies had been established in Glasgow
in 1819, Dundee in 1823; in 1826 at Perth, Aberdeen, Inverness, Ayr, Kelso
and Dumfries, and later at Lerwick. The committee strongly recommended
that the number of agencies in Scotland should be increased, and "after
much discussion, they also came to an unanimous resolution to recommend
that this might be done experimentally in those places in England where an
extensive Scotch connexion is known to exist," Manchester, Liverpool and
Newcastle-on-Tyne being mentioned as the cities most favourable for the
The report having been unanimously approved
by an Extraordinary Court on 5th July, the Ordinary Court was empowered to
prepare for the peaceful invasion of England, whereby an important
departure was made beyond the original aim and scope of the Society.
6th August.—The business of the Society having outgrown the premises in
St. Andrew Square, and the directors having accepted a tender for their
enlargement at a cost of £980, they decided further to employ Mr. Steell,
sculptor, [Afterwards Sir John Steell, R.S.A. (1804-1891), sculptor for
Scotland to Queen Victoria] to carve in stone "the emblematic group of
figures which form the Society's arms, to be placed above the door of the
office," at a cost of £80 to £100. [The group was afterwards printed in
colour and used as an emblematic device. It is not heraldic, wherefore it
is incorrectly termed "the Society's Arms." The Society has never
registered any arms.]
15th October.—The Court received
intimation of the death of Sir Walter Scott of Abbotsford, baronet, Dr.
Clarkson of Melrose who certified the same stating "that the said Sir
Walter Scott did not die by his own hand, nor suffered death by the hands
of justice, but that his death was occasioned by repeated apoplectic
Sir Walter's life was assured by the Society
for £3000, increased by bonus additions to £3360.
11th March.—Sir William Maxwell having asked for return of the extra
premiums paid in respect of sea risk when yachting in the Mediterranean,
as he had never been more than one mile from the shore since his yacht
left the Mediterranean in 1830, was required to certify that he had never
sailed in any other vessel. He explained in reply that he had gone perhaps
twenty or thirty times in pleasure-boats to picnics with parties of ladies
and gentlemen, but never more than one mile from the shore. The Court held
that by so doing Sir William had incurred sea risk, wherefore they
declined to return the extra premiums.
Manager of the Society, being in a room in the late Lord Eldin's house in
Picardy Place, in company with Mr. Alexander Smith, banker, the floor
suddenly collapsed, carrying with it Mr. Smith, who was killed, while Mr.
M'Kean was left standing on the hearthstone.
An officer going to India to serve on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief
at Bombay was charged £4 : 14 : 6 per cent on the sum assured as extra
29th.—Mr. M'Kean, the Manager, applied for
leave of absence "for a day or two at a time," as his family were in
bathing quarters on the Clyde. "I do not contemplate that at any time my
absence from the office will be more than three days at a stretch. . . .
As it is now four years since I had occasion to ask leave of absence, I am
induced to hope for your favourable consideration of the present request."
The Court granted leave accordingly.
Court had under consideration a proposal from a business man in
Londonderry to extend the Society's business to Ireland. No decision is
recorded; but in November following applications were received for an
agency in Belfast in response to the Society's advertisement.
11th November.—Mr. Steell received £157: 10s. for the sculpture of the
group of figures over the front entrance to the office, the terms
originally fixed having proved insufficient (see minute, 6th August 1832).
6th January.—In consideration of the great and
rapid increase of business a general rise of salaries took place, and
various honoraria and gratuities were granted to clerks and others for
extra work. £150 was allotted for the purchase of "snuff-boxes or other
pieces of plate at their choice" to be presented to Sir James Gibson
Craig, Bt., William Scott Moncrieff, Esq., William Mitchell of
Parsonsgreen, Esq., and James Balfour of Pilrig, Esq., the other Trustees
of the Society, "as a grateful acknowledgement of their gratuitous
10th February.—License to travel to and from
Spain by sea granted on prepayment of 7s. 6d. per cent on sum assured for
each separate voyage.
17th.—Proposal for £3000 by a
gentleman aged 43 returning to the West Indies to reside there for two
14th April.—An application was
considered from a member residing in Lerwick to be reponed against
forfeiture of his policy owing to being in arrear with payment of the
premiums. The said application was despatched from Lerwick in January and
did not reach Edinburgh till 13th March, "the vessel that brought it
having been driven to Orkney and impeded by boisterous weather, no
uncommon occurrence with Zetland vessels, and there is no regular mail."
The petition was granted, subject to the usual fine of 15 per cent, in
terms of the Articles of Constitution.
member insured for £3000 received license to travel to Demerara on payment
of eight guineas per cent per annum on the sum assured (£252).
19th May.-The Chancellor of the Exchequer having announced the reduction
of the 4 per cent Government Stock to 3 1/2, the Court intimated their
dissent and directed Messrs. Coutts & Co. to obtain repayment of the
Society's money invested in the said stock.
acknowledging a gift of plate from the Society, Mr. Patrick Cockburn, to
whose vigilance so much of the success of the Institution was owing, wrote
3rd June 1834.—When I look back to the
beginning of the Institution, and the struggles it had to encounter in its
outset, and contrast it with its present flourishing condition, I am lost
in astonishment. That eminent degree of prosperity to which it has now
attained I can only ascribe to the zeal, vigilance, and good management of
the directors and office-bearers of the Society, and to the wisdom of its
Constitution, which, by balancing the varied and complicated interests of
its perpetually changing members, has mainly contributed to promote that
unanimity and harmony which has been so conspicuous in all its
9th June.—A curious petition was presented
by the mother of a natural son of the late Alexander Stewart, who, it will
be remembered, acted as secretary to the Society in 1814 and 1815, when
the office of secretary was discontinued. Stewart had invested "a small
sum by way of tontine in the Society," for the benefit of his said natural
son, who, having been hanged as a pirate "up the Mediterranean" in 1825,
derived no benefit from the policy. The Court ordered payment to be made
to the petitioner of £8 : 11 : 2 standing in the name of the deceased
16th.—The extra rate of premium for residence in
Canada was reduced from £1 to 15s. per cent on sums assured.
18th August.—Yachting and pleasure-boat sailing round the coasts of the
United Kingdom were exempted for the first time from extra premium for sea
22nd September. -A merchant going to Oporto on
business was charged 7s. 6d. per cent on sum assured for sea risk. The
extra payment amounted to £18 15s.
Court reduced the rate of interest on loans secured on heritable property
from 4 per cent to 3 1/2 per cent; but the rate was raised again to 4 per
cent on 20th February 1837.
interesting discussion took place at the Ordinary Court held on this date
about the Bank of England stock held by the Society. The holding was a
small one. [The figures in the account given do not balance exactly; but
that is how they stand in the Minute Book.]
The stock had fluctuated in value during fifteen years between £247 1/4 in
1822 and £185 1/2 in November 1832. Such fluctuation, in the opinion of
the Society's actuary, being too great "to render it a desirable
investment," a director moved that instructions should be given for the
sale of the Society's holding, the current price being £223 1/2. On the
division on the question of "Sale or Delay" the votes were equal, seven on
each side, whereupon the Chairman gave his casting vote for "Delay."
[This stock was quoted on 10th November 1913 as £232.]
6th July.—All insured persons (not being sea-faring
men by occupation) were allowed henceforth to pass in time of peace from
or to any port in Europe without extra premium.
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