No one aspect of the development of commercial as distinct from industrial aggregation which marked the eighteenth century, is more important than that in the sphere of marine insurance, which was preparing the way for the autonomous organization of Lloyd's. It is an aspect on which, however, our information is very incomplete. What certain knowledge we have of this period of the growth of marine insurance comes primarily from the two parliamentary inquiries of 17 18-20 1 and of 1810,2 in the evidence of both of which there is much useful detail; between these there is little but the contemporary treatises on insurance, the debates and acts of parliament, and the Law Reports. William Braund's career as an underwriter is, therefore, important, for it covers the years when information is slightest, and the time which made possible and necessary the organization which finally emerged. Even before 1741, the year in which his extant accounts begin, until his death in 1774, he was occupied in underwriting, at first as a minor, at last as almost his sole activity. It was an important time, and Braund's increasing specialization in insurance is in itself significant. It was the age which established the dominance in England of the individual underwriter, grouped in the unique institution of Lloyd's, in the place of the joint stock insurance company which was growing up elsewhere. By 1741 the individual underwriters had easily surmounted the dangers of the competition set up in 1720 when the two' bubble' monopoly insurance companies were founded: the Royal Exchange Assurance Corporation and the London Assurance Corporation. They were indeed gaining from the prohi bition of all other joint stock enterprise, and of partnership in
43 marine insurance, which the companies' statutory monopoly entailed. At the same time English trade and shipping were expanding steadily, and, most important of all, England was in the midst of the series of commercial and maritime wars (Braund's activities cover two of them) which were to lead marine insurance to its full organization in the early years of the next century. In 1676 Molloy had thought it difficult to insure a (trading voyage' at all, for (this Policy being general and dangerous, seldom procures Subscriptions, or at least very chargeable ones'. I In 1752 a prominent underwriter and the richest of the West Indian merchants agreed on the difficulties in the way of effecting insurances at all times to Jamaica,z while it was still the mark of the great merchant to save by not insuring at all.3 By 1810 it was the boast of John Angerstein,4 the first great name in English insurance, in the midst of a European war, that ( every Insurance almost can be done with fair connections, and at a considerable advance of Premium' among the underwriters at Lloyd's.