CGNU Life Assurance Ltd
CGNU Life Assurance Ltd was established on October 23 1837 as the Protestant Dissenters' and General Life and Fire Assurance Company with a deed of settlement sealed on May 9 1838.
The company commenced business on 25 December 1837 as a life insurer offering special rates for ministers and those "connected with the great body of Protestant Dissenters". Reverend Thomas Price DD, one of the main founders, was appointed the company's first manager.
A special committee had already met in November 1837 to consider the running of the company and recommended entering the fire business and setting aside a proportion of profits for a "Ministers' Fund" to benefit ministers and their families. At first, the company limited itself to insuring nonconformists. However, it became clear that more profitable business could be gained from ending this limitation.
General Life prospectus, 1910
In March 1838, the company issued its first life policy. By 1839, the year the company issued its first annuity policy, it had underwritten 446 policies. On April 3 1840, an act of parliament about the company gained royal assent, allowing it to change its name to the General Life and Fire Assurance Company on March 18 1847.
Among the first fire risks undertaken was one for £6,000 on Baker's Chop House, a well-known coffee house in Change Alley, London. The fire business was sold in 1892 to the London and Lancashire Fire Insurance Company after losses in major conflagrations at St Johns, Newfoundland, Canada and Sundsvall, Sweden. On June 29 1893, the company changed its name again, this time to the General Life Assurance Company.
In 1925, the company became a subsidiary of the General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation Ltd. On December 20 1927, the company was incorporated as the General Life Assurance Company.
The next few decades saw many changes. On January 1 1969, the company changed its name to the Yorkshire General Life Assurance Company and again, in 1970, to the Yorkshire-General Life Assurance Company, after taking over the life business of General Accident's subsidiaries, Yorkshire Insurance and the Scottish Insurance Corporation. On January 1 1985 the company was renamed General Accident Life Assurance Ltd. On October 1 1998 it became known as CGU Life Assurance Ltd and, finally, on October 2 2000, the company was renamed CGNU Life Assurance Ltd.
|1837||The General Life and Fire Assurance Company is established as the Protestant Dissenters' and General Life and Fire Assurance Company|
|1838||The company issues its first life policy|
|1847||Name changes to the General Life and Fire Assurance Company|
|1892||The fire business is sold to the London and Lancashire Fire Insurance Company|
|1893||Name changes to the General Life Assurance Company|
|1925||The company becomes a subsidiary of the General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation|
|1927||The company is incorporated as the General Life Assurance Company|
|1969||Name changes to the Yorkshire General Life Assurance Company|
|1970||Name changes to the Yorkshire-General Life Assurance Company|
|1985||Name changes to General Accident Life Assurance|
|1998||Name changes to CGU Life Assurance Ltd|
|2000||Name changes to CGNU Life Assurance Ltd|
Did you know...?
- Dr Thomas Price, the first manager and secretary, was a well-known Baptist divine, editor of the Eclectic Review and founder member of the British & Foreign Anti Slavery Society, which organised the first World Anti Slavery convention, held in London in 1840. A painting of this convention, featuring Dr Price, can be found in the National Portrait Gallery.
- Rowland Hill, inventor of the penny post, was a company auditor from 1838 to 1840.
- In 1851, when the first International Exhibition was held in London, the company gave each member of staff two days off to visit the exhibition and 10 shillings for the entrance fee.
- W S Champness, the original publisher of the Insurance Blue Book and Guide in 1873, was assistant company secretary from 1859 to 1882.
- Henry Ward, manager and secretary from 1886 to 1892, was married to the daughter of W Baddeley, inventor of fire extinction systems.
- Former director John Pirie was an alderman who later became Lord Mayor, a knight of the realm and director of the South Australia Company. The third pioneer ship to arrive in Australia, Schooner John Pirie, was named for him.
Subsidiaries and constituents*
|1846 - 1857||British Empire Mutual Fire Assurance Society|
|1832 - 1890||Subscribers Annuitant Society of Bristol|
|1961 - 1970||General Development Property Company Ltd (transferred from General Accident)|
|1969 - 1970||Niger Insurance Company (Nigeria) (transferred from Yorkshire Insurance Company, sold in 1973)|
|1874 - 1970||Bloomfield Land and Building Company Ltd (transferred from Yorkshire)|
|1884 - 1970||Lancashire and Yorkshire Reversionary Interest Company (transferred from Yorkshire)|
|1941 - 1970||White Star Trust Ltd (transferred from Yorkshire)|
|1973||Yorkshire General (Pensions Management) Ltd|
* Please note the first date given is the date of the establishment of the company and the second date is the date the company was acquired or became a subsidiary. Where only one date is given the company was established as a subsidiary of the parent company. Where one date is preceded by a hyphen the date of the establishment of the company is not known.
Staff and officials
|1837 - 1867||Dr Thomas Price (also manager)|
|1867 - 1886||George Scott Freeman (also manager)|
|1886 - 1892||Henry Ward (also manager)|
|1892 - 1917||John Robert Freeman (also manager)|
|1917 - 1924||Albert Burton Nye (also manager)|
|1924 - 1928||J Mayhew Allen|
|1928 - 1933||J Caven Irving|
|1933 - 1936||Dudley North|
|1936 - 1937||L Morton-Butt|
|1937 - 1945||E J Corse-Scott|
|1945 - 1956||L V Beard|
|1956 - 1968||H S Edwards|
|1968 - 1969||G N Dingsdale|
|1969 - 1976 at least||A Cade|
|1837 - 1867||Dr Thomas Price (also secretary)|
|1867 - 1886||George Scott Freeman (also secretary)|
|1886 - 1892||Henry Ward (also secretary)|
|1892 - 1917||John Robert Freeman (also secretary)|
|1917 - 1924||Albert Burton Nye (also secretary)|
|1924 - 1932||J Mayhew Allen (title to 1928 actuary and secretary)|
|1932 - 1954||S Norie-Miller (general manager; managing director from 1947)|
|1955 - 1956||Alfred H Pearson (managing director)|
|1956 - 1968||H S Edwards (general manager and secretary)|
|1968 - 1976 at least||C R Fisher|
General Life policy header, 1889
- Thomas Challis (later Lord Mayor)
- Thomas Piper
- Andrew Caldecott
- George Bousfield
- John Edgar
- Joseph Fletcher
- Richard Hollier
- Charles Hindley MP
- John Pirie
- Thomas Bridge Simpson
- Charles Pelham Villiers (longest-serving MP, 1835 - 1898)
- John Wilkes
- Edward Wilson
- William Beeby
Head office premises
|1837 - 1838||17 Cornhill, London|
|1838 - 1880||62 King William Street, London (formerly known as Great Eastcheap and adjoining Rat Alley)|
|1880 - 1925||103 Canon Street, London|
|1925 - 1956||General Buildings, Aldwych, London|
|1956 - 1960||52 Pall Mall, London|
|1960 - 1968||4 & 5 Grosvenor Place, London|
|1968 -||2 Rougier Street, York|
Home branches and agencies
General Life illustrated branches, 1886
- Edinburgh (by 1846)
- Bristol (by 1846)
- Glasgow (by 1846)
- Norwich (by 1846)
- West of London (by 1879)
- Bedford (by 1879)
- Belfast (by 1879)
- Birmingham (by 1879)
- Bradford (by 1879)
- Gloucester (by 1879)
- Hull (by 1879)
- Leeds (by 1879)
- Leicester (by 1879)
- Liverpool (by 1879)
- Luton (by 1879)
- Manchester (by 1879)
- Sheffield (by 1879)
- Stirling (by 1879)
- Swansea (by 1879)
- York (by 1879)
- Lancashire District (by 1879)
Overseas branches and agencies
General Life prospectus for Hamburg, 1898
- France (by 1886)
- Hamburg, Germany (by 1898)
- South Africa (by 1917)
- Belgium (by 1927)
- Egypt (by 1927)
A Century of Progress by Arthur Champness. Tillotson & Son. Bolton, 1937.
In the archive
The Aviva archive contains records relating to the running of the General Life and Fire Assurance Company between 1838 and 2004. The collection includes board minutes, committee minutes, policy books, prospectuses, share registers, revenue accounts, cash books, deeds of settlement, board of trade returns, proposals and salary registers.