News & Tall Tales. 1800s.

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Lloyds of London

Lloyds of London has been insuring ships for more than 300 years. In the 17th century, London's importance as a trade centre led to an increasing demand for ship and cargo insurance. Edward Lloyd's coffee house became recognized as the place for obtaining marine insurance and this is where the Lloyd’s that we know today began. Their site includes Shipping Claims and Catastrophes.

Lloyds Coffee House, London

Lloyds Coffee House, London.

August 3, 1890, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California

How "Lloyd's List" was Started Two Hundred Years Ago

The oldest paper published in the English language, except the London Gazette, is Lloyd's List, which made its first appearance in a dingy little London coffee house in 1692. There is no newspaper more generally read by shippers and marine merchants than Lloyd's, and yet few of its readers know its very remarkable history or that of the great commercial business that has grown up with it.

About 1675 there was a coffee house in Tower street, London, kept by one Edward Lloyd, where a knot of merchants gathered at noon to discuss business and gossip over the threatening Romanism of James II. From this small beginning has grown up one of the greatest and most powerful commercial organizations in the world, not the least important feature of which is an intelligence department which for wideness of range and efficient working has no parallel in the history of private enterprise.

As early as 1688 the London Gazette contained a flattering notice of Lloyd's shop, and four years later the proprietor, who seems to have been a rousing good business man, moved his establishment to Lombard street, then the center of London's wealthy and influential merchant populace. The astute coffeehouse proprietor at this time began the publication of his News, a weekly paper filled with commercial and shipping information, and it became very popular with those seventeenth century men of trade. It subsequently changed its name to Lloyd's List, and ever since that time has enjoyed an interrupted publication.

Throughout the greater part of the eighteenth century Lloyd's was the most popular place known to London merchants and underwriters. Lloyd himself probably died in the early part of the century, but his name and his paper had ineffaceably marked the business of that time, as it marks that of the present day. London's great business of marine insurance owes its existence to the printed form of policy issued by the Lloyd Association of Underwriters, an association that has never been known by any other name than that of the poor but popular coffeehouse proprietor and editor. The whole superstructure of marine insurance rests upon the List, which for 200 years has embraced the collection, publication and diffusion of every form of intelligence with respect to shipping.

Perhaps the most famous maritime loss at Lloyd's was that of the HMS Lutine in fact, the ship's great bell, which was salvaged in 1857, hangs in the atrium of Lloyd's underwriting room. HMS Lutine, a majestic French Navy Magicienne-class (32-gun) frigate which had been captured and now belonged to the British Navy, was ordered to deliver a vast sum of gold and silver, collected by City of London merchants, to the German port, as funds to prevent a stock market crash.

It s rumored that the ship also carried the Dutch crown jewels, en route from repair in London. It was Lloyd s underwriters who insured the Lutine s highly valuable cargo.

With Sail Whitening Every Sea. Brian Rouleau, Author.

In 1799, the economy in Hamburg was on the brink of collapse. HMS Lutine, a majestic French Navy Magicienne-class (32-gun) frigate which had been captured and now belonged to the British Navy, was ordered to deliver a vast sum of gold and silver, collected by City of London merchants, to the German port, as funds to prevent a stock market crash. It s rumored that the ship also carried the Dutch crown jewels, en route from repair in London. It was Lloyd s underwriters who insured the Lutine s highly valuable cargo. On the evening of 9 October, during a heavy north-westerly gale, the Lutine was dragged by the tide onto notoriously dangerous sandbanks off the Dutch coast, where she was wrecked in the breakers, and all but one of her 240 passengers and crew were lost. Captain Lancelot Skynner went down with his ship, and it was left to the Commander of the Squadron, Nathaniel Portlock, to inform the Admiralty of his extreme pain at the loss. He wrote: "I shall use every endeavour to save what I can from the wreck, but from the situation she is lying in, I am afraid little will be recovered."

Lloyds of London. The Loss Book.
The Loss Book.
Lloyd's of London.

Divers still hunt for the sunken treasure, but if there is one light in all this darkness, it is that Lloyd s, under the leadership of skilled underwriter John Julius Angerstein, paid the claim in full, and just two weeks after the disaster.

It was the Lutine that created Lloyd's reputation for paying valid claims and for having the financial wherewithal to withstand a loss of such legendary proportions. The Lutine Bell In 1858, HMS Lutine yielded her most famous find the Lutine Bell. It was found tangled in the chains which had run from the ship's wheel to the rudder, and was originally left in this state before being separated and re-hung from the rostrum of the Lloyd's underwriting room. The bell has traditionally been struck on the arrival of news of an overdue ship - once for the ship s loss (and so, for bad news), and twice for her return (good news). The bell was originally sounded to ensure that all brokers and underwriters were made aware of the news simultaneously. It has more recently been rung to mark special occasions

May 2, 1869, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Specie in the Zuyder Zee - An Attempt to Recover the Riches of the Deep.

From the Daily Telegraph, November 29th.

On the night of October 7, 1799, her Majesty's ship Lutine, freighted with an enormous amount of specie, varying from £1,500,000 to 8,000,000, foundered on the sand-banks off off the northwest coast of Holland, and the greater bulk of that treasure still lies buried with but nine fathoms of water over it. The Lutine was bound to a port in the Zuyder Zee, and the £1,500,000 she had on board was subsidy money for the English troops who were then serving under the Prince of Holland Holland being at war with France. She had also on hoard large assignments of specie for merchants in the country, as well as for bullion dealers and bankers at Hamburg, to which port she was to have proceeded after landing the Government subsidy money at the port in the Zuyder Zee. There were also on board the Crown jewels of Holland, which had been sent to the country by the Prince of Orange to be reset and polished by Messrs. Kundell & Bridges, the then famous jewellers to the English Court, on Ludgate Hill.

They had been placed in a strong iron case, hermetically sealed, and were shipped on board the Lutine, at Lowestoft, a few days before she sailed, on the morning of October 6th; and it is alleged that the commander was so elated with his important commission from the bankers that the night before the vessel took her departure on her fatal voyage he entertained all the elite of Lowestoft and Yarmouth to a grand ball on board.

The Lutine Bell.
The Lutine Bell
King George Funeral, Windsor

Of the circumstance of her loss very little is known beyond the fact that, on the following night, the Lutine, in making for the entrance of the Zuyder Zee, encountered a fearful storm, and was driven on a sand-bank, between the Islands of Tarschelling and Vieland, and subsequently foundered, all her officers and crew, excepting one man, perishing. The survivor, however, only lived a few hours. He was picked up by some Dutch boatmen, who found him floating on some spars, and after stating the facts of the dreadful wreck he died. Nearly 200 persons perished in the ill-fated vessel.

After much exertion the sunken wreck of the Lutine was discovered lying in nine fathoms of water, within three miles of the western portion of the Island of Parschelling; but no attempt, we believe, was made to recover the sunken treasure for one or two years, owing in a great measure to the shifting sand-banks and the rapidity of the tides which swept over spot. The Dutch Government offered a reward of 8,000 for the recovery of the crown jewels, which, with other inducements held out in England, led to a company being formed, who commenced operations, and in a few years they recovered about 160,000 of the specie, of which the Dutch Government claimed 80,000 as a royalty. Subsequently their operations were stopped by the wreck becoming embedded in sand, and in that state it continued for three years; and the consequence was that the Company became bankrupt, and the salvage operations ceased. Since then several other diving companies have been formed, and they all failed after a series of years' working.

The last operations on the wreck were about three or four years since, when the divers found that the bottom of the ship, with her keel, where the bulk of the treasure is, is entire, with the skeleton of her ribs remaining. The sand buried her from time, but as certain currents set in the sand-banks shift, and the wreck is exposed. It was only for an hour, or half an hour, that the divers could remain down, at the slack of the tides, and only in very fine, calm weather, and even then they could hardly keep a footing on account of the rapid current. In addition to the 160,000 recovered another 60,000 was recovered by the companies. The last recovery took place a few days since, and about 20,000 was paid as royalty to the Government, who, up to that time, had repudiated all claims on the wreck of the English underwriters, and marine Insurance Companies who had taken lines of of insurances on the specie, and had paid 1,600,000 as a total loss.

The English underwriters were prepared with better appliances to work at the wreck; but all offers were refused, and it is only lately that the Dutch Government admitted that they had no right to the wreck whatever, and, if we are correctly informed, the representatives of Lloyds have full power to take possession of the wreck, together with its treasure.

Lloyd's Reading Room.
Lloyd's Reading Room

All the underwriters who were interested and paid on the total loss have been dead for some years, and it being impossible for any claim to be set up by any surviving relatives of the underwriters, Lloyds, it is said, intend to apply to Parliament for powers to appropriate all moneys recovered from the wreck for purposes named in the proposals. Of the 80,000 which the Dutch Government formerly received as royalty money, no portion has been returned; but, of the second amount of 20,000, this was made over to Lloyds a few years since, by order of the King of Holland, which sum remains untouched by the managing Committee, and, with the interest that has been accumulated since, near 9,000, it is probable that operations will be renewed on the wreck during the ensuing summer, and on a scale which is likely to be eminently successful. The plan, we understand, will be to construct large iron caissons, similar to those used for constructing the foundations of the piers of the new Blackfrairs Bridge, and sink them into the sands, completely encompassing the wreck. These fairly sunk -- engineers of eminence declare there is no obstacle preventing them -- the excavation of the sand from the interior can be in a few days accomplished, and the treasure recovered.

April 1, 1906, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California

Anything Can Be Insured Against at Lloyds, the Great London Agency 

Special Cable to The Herald.

LONDON, March 31. People all over the world understand and know that there are no calculations regarding calamities from the birth of triplets to the entrance of burglars that cannot be figured out in percentages at Lloyds. And as a result all kinds of insurance policies can be obtained at Lloyds. During the past year or two a custom has arisen of Issuing policies to those who wish to protect themselves against losses arising from fog, frost or flood. . .

On April 9, 1905, the San Francisco Call reported a "LONDON, April 8. Insurance rates at Lloyds' for shipping bound east of Singapore advanced smartly on the news that the Russian second Pacific squadron had passed that port."

The Naval Order of the United States has a history dating from 1890. Membership includes a wide range of individuals, many with highly distinguished career paths.

The San Francisco Commandery meets the first Monday of each month at the San Francisco Italian Athletic Club in San Francisco, California and holds two formal dinners each year.

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.




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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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