Local History Projects

Fire Insurance Register Project

Index of Surrey entries in the Sun Insurance Office fire policy registers, 1788-93
(Guildhall Library Ms 11936 volumes 349-398)

The records of fire insurance companies provide a wealth of valuable information for local historians. Unfortunately, the volumes are extremely difficult and time-consuming to use because there is no general index, although some limited work has been carried out. In particular, there is an index published on microfiche covering the years 1775-87 for the Sun and Royal Exchange companies. A vast number of policies were issued: by 1795 the number had reached over 625,000 for the Sun company alone.

The Surrey Local History Council, is running a project to index entries relating to Surrey for a limited period. The period chosen is from 1788, when the published microfiche index ends, to 1793, when separate country department registers start for policies outside London. Geographically, the project is covering all the areas that have ever been in Surrey, that is the historic county of Surrey, which includes a large area now in south-west London, plus those parts of the present county which were formerly in Middlesex and a small area formerly in Sussex.

The Sun Fire registers are held in the Manuscripts Section of the Guildhall Library in the City of London. In the first stage, volume numbers have been allocated to participants who are trawling through them and noting policy numbers which relate to Surrey, recording only the volume, policy number and place.

At the second stage, these references will be given to participants who have an interest in a particular place or district. They will extract the detailed information - date, person's name, occupation, type of property, amount insured for etc - for policies in that area, and a database will be set up.

The project made a modest start in September 1998 with some half-dozen volunteers and it is hoped that it will gain momentum as it is seen to be making progress undaunted and as it is recognised that even a very limited project is worthwhile - provided that people are aware that the work is being done. Progress reports will therefore be given and updated from time to time on the Council's web page.

Several participants have sent in data and all have expressed a wish to search another volume. Data for thirteen volumes is displayed in the attached file (see below). More volunteers would be welcome and those interested in taking part are invited to contact Glenys Crocker (alanglencr@glfd.freeserve.co.uk)

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