Amicable Society – Sir Robert Walpole

    Sir Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford, KG, PC, was a British statesman who, as First Lord of the Treasury, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Leader of the House of Commons, is regarded as the de facto first Prime Minister of Great Britain.

    In 1715, he became a member of the Amicable Society for life insurance. As a government minister and MP, Robert Walpole would be important for the Society. Insurance was a lottery then.

    • Maximum membership: 2,000.
    • Eligibility: Anyone healthy and were aged between 12 and 45.
    • Member annual premium: £6 and 4 shillings.

    In return they would receive a number, which represented their share of the scheme. Members could pay for as many numbers as they liked.

    At the end of each year, the contributions – minus running costs – were divided among the family of members who had died that year. The amount you received depended on how many numbers you owned, but also how many other members had died. If you were the only member to die in a particular year, your family would benefit from the entire pot. It was a forerunner of life insurance.

    The policy in Walpole’s name was before the 1774 Life Assurance Act. The premiums were kept up to date. The policy paid to the beneficiary in 1745, the year of Walpole’s death.


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