Universal Life Assurance Society

The Universal Life Assurance Society was established on April 1 1834. It was acquired on May 29 1901 by the North British & Mercantile Insurance Company, which became a subsidiary of the Commercial Union Assurance Company Ltd in 1959.

Company History

Universal Life Assurance Society advertisement

The company was established by

"gentlemen friendly to the establishment of a life assurance society for Great Britain and her possessions especially India". According to early advertisements, the society offered "assurance of lives at home and abroad including gentlemen engaged in Naval and military services".

The society's first policy was for £1,000 on the life of Benjamin Kilburn, a broker based at 1 Great Winchester Street, and was issued on June 3 1834. By 1852, the society had issued over 5,300 policies and was also offering endowments, immediate and deferred annuities and purchase and sale of reversions and annuities.

Key dates

Year Event
1834 The society is established
1901 The society is acquired by the North British & Mercantile Insurance Company
1959 North British & Mercantile is acquired by the Commercial Union Assurance Company

Did you know...?

  • The society insured John Heron who mysteriously disappeared from the Osprey steam vessel from Bristol to Dublin on July 5 1835.
  • The society insured Robert James Carr Bishop Worcester who attended George IV during his final illness.
  • In 1836, the society insured Sir Robert Wilmot Horton, Governor of Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
  • In the same year, the society insured George Tradescant Lay who was leaving Britain for China as agent to the British and Foreign Bible Society.

Head office premises

Year Address
1834 - 1836 Mssrs Payne and Hopkins, 69 Cornhill, London
1836 - 1890 at least 1 King William Street, London (new premises acquired in 1835)

Staff and officials

Secretary

Year Name
1834 - pre 1846 Robert Christie (also actuary)
by 1846 - 1855 at least Michael Elijah Impey
by 1870 - 1890 at least Frederick Hendriks (also actuary)
by 1901 Mr Hardy (also actuary)

Actuary

Year Name
by 1846 - 1850 at least D Jones
by 1870 - 1890 at least Frederick Hendriks (also secretary)
by 1901 Mr Hardy (also secretary)

Directors (1834)

  • Alexander Baillie
  • Charles Dashwood Bruce
  • John Bagshaw
  • William Kilburn
  • Charles Otway Mayne
  • Robert Monro
  • James Duncan Thomson
  • James Russell Todd

Home agencies (1834)

  • Newport
  • Hull
  • Portsmouth
  • Great Yarmouth
  • Ipswich
  • Ashford
  • Leeds
  • Carmarthen
  • Bristol
  • Birmingham
  • Bradford
  • Durham
  • Chertsey
  • Liverpool
  • Plymouth
  • Glasgow
  • Wrexham
  • Cardigan
  • Swansea
  • Llandovery
  • Llandilo
  • Brecon
  • Lymington
  • Manchester
  • Reading
  • Cheltenham
  • Southampton
  • Glasgow
  • Salisbury
  • Worcester
  • Norwich
  • Bath
  • Tunbridge Wells

Overseas branches and agencies

  • Calcutta, India (1834)
  • Dublin, Ireland (1834)
  • Hamburg, Germany (1834)
  • Paris, France (1834)
  • Cologne, Germany (1834)
  • Trieste, Italy (1835)
  • Canada (1836)
  • Jersey (1836)
  • Singapore (1836)
  • Bombay, India (by 1855)
  • Madras, India (by 1855)
  • Sri Lanka (Ceylon) (by 1873)

In the archives

The Aviva archive contains records relating to the running of the Universal Life Assurance Society between 1834 and 1901. The collection includes deeds of settlement, board minutes and policy registers.

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