Amicable Society for a Perpetual Assurance Office

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Amicable Society for a Perpetual Assurance Office, Serjeants' Inn, Fleet Street, London, 1801
Amicable Society coat of arms
Fire insurance contract of 1796

Amicable Society for a Perpetual Assurance Office (a.k.a. "Amicable Society") is considered the first life insurance company in the world.[1][2][3][4]


Amicable Society was founded in London in 1706 by William Talbot (Bishop of Oxford) and Sir Thomas Allen, 2nd Baronet.[5] The first plan of life insurance was that each member paid a fixed annual payment per share on from one to three shares with consideration to age of the members being twelve to fifty-five. [4] At the end of the year a portion of the "amicable contribution" was divided among the wives and children of deceased members and it was in proportion to the amount of shares the heirs owned. Amicable Society started with 2000 members.[6][7]

A modification from Amicable's life insurance was developed by "The Society for Equitable Assurances on Lives and Survivorships." This new life insurance society was developed by Halley, De Moivre, Simpson, De Parcieux, and Dodson. The reason for the new society (life insurance company) was because Dodson, who was over 45 (the age limit for new admissions),[8] wanted to have his life insured but was turned down by the Amicable Society, so formed a new society. In 1757 a petition for a charter of incorporation was submitted. It was worked on for four years, but ultimately turned down in 1761. In 1762 a modification of the original terms was finally agreed upon and the society started a business of life insurance. The society was referred to as the "Equitable" and it issued policies for life insurance of fixed sums on single or joint lives, or on survivorships, and for any term. Equitable's life insurance was different than Amicable's in that the premiums were regulated according to age. Anybody could be insured and were admitted regardless of their state of health and other circumstances. The initial scheme of Equitable had many imperfections, but through time developed into life insurance as we know it today.[4][9]

Due to Equitable's new type of insurance, Amicable changed its policies in 1807. It then had various premium fees to be paid on policies obtainable according to age, occupation, and health.[4] In 1866 the Amicable Society was acquired by the Norwich Union Life Insurance Society.


The motto of the Amicable Society was prudens simplicitas (prudent simplicity). The choice of creatures (dove perched on top of a serpent) above their coat of Arms may refer to Jesus' saying, be wise as serpents, gentle as doves. [3]


  1. ^ Anzovin, p. 121 The first life insurance company known of record was founded in 1706 by the Bishop of Oxford and the financier Thomas Allen in London, England. The company, called the Amicable Society for a Perpetual Assurance Office, collected annual premiums from policyholders and paid the nominees of deceased members from a common fund.
  2. ^ Amicable Society company history Archived 2011-07-23 at the Wayback Machine The Amicable Society was established on July 25, 1706 as the Amicable Society for a Perpetual Assurance Office under a charter of Queen Anne and lays claim to being the first mutual life assurance society established in the world.
  3. ^ a b Caroline's Miscellany
  4. ^ a b c d Baynes, p.180
  5. ^ Amicable Society, p. 4
  6. ^ Amicable Society, article V, p. 5
  7. ^ Price, pp 158-171
  8. ^ Amicable Society for a Perpetual Assurance Office. (1710). The charter of the corporation of the Amicable Society for a perpetual assurance-office; Together with the By-Laws thereunto belonging. Also, An Account of the Numbers that have died each Year, and the Sums of the Yearly Dividends that have been paid. Enter'd in the Hall-Book of the Company, according to Act of Parliament. London.
  9. ^ Price, pp 174-191


  • Amicable Society, The charters, acts of Parliament, and by-laws of the corporation of the Amicable Society for a perpetual assurance office, Gilbert and Rivington, 1854
  • Anzovin, Steven, Famous First Facts 2000, item # 2422, H. W. Wilson Company, ISBN 0-8242-0958-3
  • Baynes, Thomas Spencer, The Encyclopædia Britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences, and general literature, Volume 13, H.G. Allen, 1888
  • Price, Richard, Observations on reversionary payments: on schemes for providing annuities for widows, and for persons in old age; on the method of calculating the values of assurances on lives; and on the national debt, T. Cadell & W. Davies, 1812