Henry Baldwin Hyde

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Henry Baldwin Hyde
Henry Baldwin Hyde (New York City Insurance Executive).jpg
Hyde as depicted in 1899's "Notable New Yorkers of 1896-1899" by Moses King.
Born (1834-05-02)May 2, 1834
Catskill, New York
Died February 15, 1899(1899-02-15) (aged 64)
New York City, New York
Resting place Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York
Occupation Insurance executive
Known for
Spouse(s) Annie (Fitch) Hyde (m. 1864)
Children James Hazen Hyde
  • Lucy Baldwin (Beach)
  • Henry Hazen Hyde
Relatives grandson Henry Baldwin Hyde

Henry Baldwin Hyde, (February 15, 1834–May 2, 1899) was an American businessman. He is notable for having founded The Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States in 1859. By the time of Hyde's death, The Equitable was the largest life insurance company in the world.


Hyde was born in Catskill, New York on February 15, 1834, the son of Henry Hazen Hyde, a successful merchant. He attended the public schools of Catskill, and when he was 16 his teacher decided to move to New York City to join the growing life insurance industry. The teacher persuaded both Hydes to join him, and all three became agents for the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York.

The younger Hyde worked for several months in Honesdale, Pennsylvania before deciding to return to New York City, where he became a clerk for Merritt, Ely & Company, a dry goods import and wholesale company. He remained there for two years, and then returned to Mutual Life, where his father had recently been appointed to the executive ranks and a place on the board of directors. Hyde rose through the home office staff to become the company's cashier.

In March 1859, Hyde left Mutual Life and established his own company, Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States. William C. Alexander initially served as president, and Hyde was vice president and general manager. Hyde succeeded to the presidency after Alexander's death in 1874, and remained in the position until his death.

He led the company to construct the Equitable Life Assurance Building for its headquarters, completed on May 1, 1870, and pushed to have the first passenger elevators installed in what was then the tallest office building in the United States.[1]

He was a founding member of the Jekyll Island Club aka The Millionaires Club.

Hyde died at his home in New York City on May 2, 1899. He was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx.[2]


Hyde sought to guarantee that his son James Hazen Hyde would continue the family’s control of the company after his death. The younger Hyde was appointed a vice president of the company at 22, and was 23 when he inherited a majority interest in the company. By the terms of his father's will, he was scheduled to assume the company presidency in 1906, but a concerted effort against him by the current president and several members of the board of directors led James H. Hyde to leave the company and move to France.


  1. ^ Henry Baldwin Hyde: a biographical sketch. New York: Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States. 1901. pp. 118–120. Retrieved January 23, 2012. 
  2. ^ Henry Baldwin Hyde at Find a Grave

Further reading[edit]

  • Henry Baldwin Hyde, prepared under supervision of J. W. Alexander, J. H. Hyde, and Wm. Alexander (1901)
  • The Proc. at the Convention to Commemorate the Fortieth Anniversary of the Equitable Life Assurance Soc. (1899?)
  • The First Fifty Years of the Equitable Life Assurance Soc. (1909)
  • Mark Sullivan, Our Times, III (1930)
  • Investigations of 1877 in Docs. of the Assembly of the State of N. Y., 1877 (1877), nos. 93, 103
  • Report of the committee in 1905-06, Ibid., 1906 (1906), no. 41, pp. 90–150
  • Testimony : taken before the Joint Committee of the Senate and Assembly of the State of New York to Investigate and Examine into the Business and Affairs of Life Insurance Companies Doing Business in the State of New York (10 vols. and index, 1905–06)
  • R. H. Walworth, Hyde Geneal. (1864), vol. I
  • N. Y. Times, May 3, 1899
  • World (N. Y.), May 3, 1899.

External links[edit]