United Kingdom Temperance and General Provident Institution
The company was established in 1840 as the United Kingdom Total Abstinence Life Association. It was acquired by Friends’ Provident in 1986 and became part of Aviva through our acquisition of Friends Life in 2015.
United Kingdom Provident leaflet cover, 1923
United Kingdom Provident prospectus cover, 1899
The company was established in London in November 1840 to provide mutual life assurance and annuities for members of the temperance movement. The company’s founder, Mr Warner, wanted to provide life assurance specifically for teetotallers and the company was originally called the United Kingdom Total Abstinence Life Association. Mr Warner later wrote that he founded the company because in 1839 he had applied for life assurance to three mutual offices one of which wanted to charge him a higher premium because the directors considered the lives of those who abstained from alcohol to be a higher risk than ordinary lives.
According to the company’s first advertisement in 1840 its founding objects were to “afford to persons who entirely abstain from intoxicating beverages, the benefits of the temperance and industry, more fully than is practicable in societies composed of persons of all classes indiscriminately”.
Mr Warner took out the company’s first policy in January 1841 and stated at the annual general meeting: "the great principal on which this institution claims superiority is in the assumed fact (which it will be one of its objects to prove), that the use of alcoholic beverages is injurious to health.”
The company drew attention to the increased longevity of temperance lives by proudly stating that it had received only three claims by the end of 1844 with just under 1000 policies on the books. Nine of the company’s first 100 policies issued were still in force in 1878.
Despite such evidence supporting the superiority of the lives of temperance members, the company was forced to accept the practicality of opening its business to the wider population and a class for non-abstainers was introduced in 1847. To reflect the wider customer base the name of the company was changed in 1849 to the United Kingdom Temperance and General Provident Institution.
By 1889 the company claimed to be the largest mutual life assurer in England as far as number of policies and accumulated funds were concerned. The assets of the accumulated funds were put to good use and the company’s investments included loans to local boards and corporations for schemes to improve sanitation throughout the country. At the annual general meeting of 1872 the chairman, Samuel Bowly, said: “it is truly satisfactory that insurance societies can help to make the lives of those they insure more healthy by enabling corporations to carry out great sanitary improvements.” In 1871 the company had advanced £317,000 to such schemes and in 1888 it invested in the New River Company of London, which was described as “the first corporation that endeavoured to supply a great city with pure water”.
The theme of the good which could be done with life insurance funds was often returned to, as in this quote from the 1960s: “The responsible individual who insures his life to protect family and dependants, to build up some capital for expanding his business, or to prepare for retirement is doing more than helping his own kith and kin. Through the investment of his premiums he is also providing funds for use by the Government and capital for Trade and Industry. For this reason life office funds perform a double duty: they are first lent to the community, and later returned to the policyholder to serve his particular needs."
In 1940 the company expanded into general insurance and formed a subsidiary, United Kingdom Provident Fire and Accident Insurance Company, to acquire the UK business of the Dominion of Canada. This company was sold in 1956 to Provincial Insurance.
The merger of UK Provident, as it was then trading, with Friends’ Provident was announced in April 1986 and the company stopped writing new business from that date. In 1988 the company’s assets were transferred to Friends’ Provident and the company was put into liquidation in 2017.
|1840||The company is established|
|1847||Non-abstainers can be accepted as policyholders|
|1849||Name changes to United Kingdom Temperance and General Provident Institution|
|1977||The company changes its trading name to UK Provident|
|1986||The company merges with Friends' Provident|
|2017||The company is put into liquidation|
Did you know...?
United Kingdom Provident head office with fountain, 1861
- The company’s founder and first policyholder was Robert Warner. He was the head of the firm of bell founders, John Warner and Sons, which cast Big Ben and the other bells for the Clock Tower of the Houses of Parliament. He was also one of the first successful growers of orchids in the UK.
- In 1859 the directors decided to build a water fountain outside their offices at London Bridge as a gift to the public. The company paid a woman 2s 6d a day to attend the fountain and keep it clean. It is said that, during the hop-picking season, women on their way to London Bridge Station to catch trains to Kent would stop at the fountain to wash their babies and cooking utensils.
- In 1865 the secretary was asked to find out the number of people using the company’s water fountain over a 24 hour period. He reported that between 7am on the 14th June 1865 and 7am on the 15th June 1865 an astonishing 3,176 people took advantage of the free, clean water it supplied.
- By 1888 the company’s telegraphic address, the equivalent of an email address today, was ‘PRECAUTION, London’.
- Three of the company’s policyholders were killed in the Stella disaster of 1899. The steamer sank with the loss of around 100 lives after hitting a group of rocks, called Les Casquets, during a foggy crossing from Southampton to Guernsey.
- In 1899, when new rules and annual reports were sent to the company’s 500,000 members the parcels weighed over a ton and postage cost £85 – the equivalent of £53,350 today.
- John M Cook, son of Thomas Cook and partner in the travel company Thomas Cook and Son, attended the company’s annual general meeting in 1871 and is said to have encouraged his staff to insure with the company.
- In 1842 the company stated that the average consumption of intoxicating liquor in the UK cost £2 10s a year, or nearly 1s a week, and that: "if every one over 21 paid this to the company instead they would guarantee at least £135 on their death."
Subsidiaries and constituents*
|1940||United Kingdom Provident Fire and Accident Insurance Company|
|1983||UK Provident Pensions Ltd|
|1985||UK Provident Unit Trust Managers 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.
Head office premises
|1841 - 1854||39 Moorgate, London|
|1854 - 1907||1 Adelaide Place, London Bridge|
|1907 - 1944||196 Strand, London|
|1944 - 1975||33 Gracechurch Street, London|
|1975 - 1982||Dolphin House New Street, Salisbury|
|1982 - 1997||United Kingdom House Castle Street, Salisbury|
|1997 -||Pixham End, Dorking|
Staff and officials
|1840 - 1851||Theodore Compton|
|1851 - 1852||Thomas A Binns|
|1852 - 1861||W R Baker|
|1862 - 1896||Thomas Cash|
|1896 - 1907||Johnson Brooks|
|1907 - 1932||H W Hasler|
|1932 - 1937||W G Barrett|
|1937 - 1947||Percy G Leveritt (also accountant; from 1945 also general manager)|
|1948 - 1951||Adam Currie (also general manager)|
|1951 - 1956||C E Kingham (also actuary)|
|1957 - 1965||John R Hughes (also actuary from 1960)|
|1966 - 1971||Philip Kemp (also accountant)|
|1971 - 1974||S E Vickery (also actuary)|
|1974 - 1979||R W Hallett (also accountant)|
|1979 - 1986||S V Finn (also property management)|
|1986 - 1996 at least||B W Sweetland|
|1891 - 1897||Thomas Cash (also secretary)|
|1897 - 1919||Thomas P Whittaker|
|1919 - 1934||None listed - title not used|
|1934 - 1949||Sir Ernest J P Benn|
|1949 - 1969||John (later Sir John) Benn|
|1969 - 1986||S G Brooksbank|
|1986 -||F G Cotton|
General Manager (originally resident director or manager)
|1852 - 1861||W R Baker (known as resident Director)|
|1861 - 1891||Thomas Cash (also secretary from 1862)|
|1891 - 1945||None listed - title not used|
|1945 - 1947||Percy G Leveritt (also secretary)|
|1948 - 1951||Adam Currie (also secretary)|
|1951 - 1974||None listed – title not used|
|1974 - 1975||S E Vickery (also actuary)|
|1975 - 1978||R W Salt|
|1978 - 1986||A Spedding GM (also actuary)|
|by 1850 - 1863||Peter Hardy|
|1863 - 1875||Samuel Brown|
|1875 - 1911||Ralph P Hardy|
|1900 - 1911||Roderick M Moore|
|1911 - 1918||Vyvyan Marr|
|1918 - 1920||E W Townley|
|1920 - 1923||C Cosmo Monkhouse|
|1924 - 1929||C C Nicholl|
|1929 - 1937||W G Barrett (also secretary from 1933)|
|1837 - 1956||C E Kingham (also secretary from 1951)|
|1957 - 1959||C G Maggs|
|1960 - 1965||J R Hughes (also secretary)|
|1965 - 1975||SE Vickery (also secretary from 1971, and general manager from 1974)|
|1975 - 1975||H J Price|
|1975 - 1986||A Spedding (also general manager by 1978)|
|1986 -||Ronald S Bignell|
United Kingdom Provident staff, 1891
- Robert Warner
- James Ellis
- William Richard Baker
- Rev J F Witty
- James Day
- Robert Barclay jnr
- Richard Walkden
- Charles Henry Lovell
- William Janson
United Kingdom Provident poster, c 1900
United Kingdom Provident proposal cover, 1897
- Birmingham (by 1861)
- Edinburgh (by 1861)
- Glasgow (by 1861)
- Ipswich (by 1861)
- Leeds (by 1861)
- Liverpool (by 1861)
- Manchester (by 1861)
- Newcastle (by 1861)
- Northampton (by 1861)
- Plymouth (by 1861)
- Bristol (by 1864)
- Exeter (by 1864)
- Leicester (1864)
- Greenock (by 1864)
- Portsmouth (by 1864)
- Dundee (by 1864)
- Carlisle (by 1864 )
- Scarborough (by 1864)
- Aberdeen (by 1897)
- Bath (by 1897)
- Brighton (by 1897)
- Darlington (by 1897)
- Halifax (by 1897)
- Leicester (by 1897)
- Luton (by 1897)
- Newport Isle of Wight (by 1897)
- Norwich (by 1897)
- Sheffield (by 1897)
- Belfast (by 1904)
- Gillingham, Kent (1920)
- Southampton (1920)
- Nottingham (1921)
- Cardiff (by 1922)
- Maidstone (1928)
- Croydon (by 1929)
- Bedford (by 1930)
- Dublin, Ireland (by 1864)
In the archives
The Aviva archive contains records relating to the running of the United Kingdom Temperance and General Provident Institution between 1841 and 1996. The collection includes board and committee minutes, annual reports and accounts, valuations, staff magazines, letter books, instructions for agents, mortality reports and advertising and promotional material.