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Royal Exchange Assurance Corporation

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The Royal Exchange Assurance
Company typePublic
FateMerged with Guardian Assurance Company
HeadquartersLondon, England
Key people
Lord Kindersley, (Governor)

The Royal Exchange Assurance, founded in 1720, was a British insurance company. It took its name from the location of its offices at the Royal Exchange, London.


The Royal Exchange Assurance emerged from a joint stock insurance enterprise known as Onslow's insurance or Onslow's Bubble. This had been begun as the Mercer's Hall Marine Company, or Undertaking kept at the Royal Exchange for insuring ships and merchandise at sea. A similar enterprise sought incorporation in 1718, but the Attorney-General reported against this. Lord Onslow then sought a means of avoiding the difficulty by his company acquiring the charters of Society of Mines Royal and Company of Mineral and Battery Works, which declared itself open for assuring ships and merchandise in March 1719. Their opponents petitioned against this and the Attorney-General reported in May 1719 that the use made of the charters was "unwarrantable".[1] The directors admitted this mistake but requested their own charter in January 1720. They and another insurance enterprise each offered £300,000 towards the King's Civil List debts. The King then encouraged the House of Commons to permit their incorporation. This was done in the Bubble Act. The new chartered company then accepted subscriptions paid on shares in the old company in payment for those on its own shares.[2]

Chartered company[edit]

The company received its royal charter under the Royal Exchange and London Assurance Corporation Act 1719 (6 Geo. 1. c. 18), popularly known as the Bubble Act. Under the terms of this legislation, the Royal Exchange and the London Assurance Company were the only incorporated bodies chartered to write marine insurance. Although this eliminated competition from other corporations, private underwriters, such as those at Lloyd's of London would remain in business. This arrangement continued until the repeal of the act in 1825.[3]


The Royal Exchange Assurance survived as an independent company for over two centuries until merging with the Guardian Assurance Company in 1968.[4]


Notable governors of The Royal Exchange Assurance included:


  1. ^ Raven, James (2014). Publishing Business in Eighteenth-century England. Boydell Press. p. 175. ISBN 978-1843839101.
  2. ^ W. R. Scott, The Constitution and Finance of ... Joint-Stock Companies to 1720 (Cambridge University Press, 1911) III, 396-409.
  3. ^ "1825: 6 George 4 c.91: Repeal of the Bubble Act". The Statutes Project. Retrieved 7 July 2023.
  4. ^ Guardian Financial Services: About us Archived 2009-02-07 at the Wayback Machine

Further reading[edit]

  • Barry Supple, The Royal Exchange Assurance A History of British Insurance 1720-1970, Cambridge, 1970