There has been much research in the profession's journals about the place of the Society for Equitable Assurances and its early pioneers in actuarial and insurance history

To offer a lead and introduction to the archive, a selection of references to papers in the Journal of the Institute of Actuaries (JIA) and Transactions of the Faculty of Actuaries (TFA) and books are listed below with links to the full text of papers online.

Origins of the ‘Actuary’ in life insurance and earlier roles

  • Ogborn, M.E. (1950). The Actuary in the Eighteenth Century. Proceedings of the Institute of Actuaries Centenary Assembly. (Cambridge University Press, 1950).
  • Ogborn, M.E. (1956). The professional name of actuary. JIA 82: 233-246.
  • Lewin, C.G. (2003). Pensions and insurance before 1800. (Tuckwell Press, 2003). (The author presents an alternative explanation of how 'actuary' became the title for the modern role known today, page 383.).

History of the Society

  • Walford, C. (1875). The History of the Equitable Society, […], from the date of its projection in 1756 down to 1873. (London: Charles and Edwin Layton, 1875). Reprinted from the Insurance Cyclopaedia. (Copy acquired in the Archive).
  • Ogborn, M.E. (1962). Equitable Assurances: The Story of Life Assurance in the Experience of the Equitable Life Assurance Society 1762-1962 (London: Allen & Unwin, 1962).
  • Review of Equitable assurances by Maurice E Ogborn. Review by A.H. Rowell. JIA (1962) 88: 387-389.
  • Review of Equitable assurances by Maurice E Ogborn. Review by R.L. Gwilt. TFA (1962-1964) 28: 104-110.

Originators of the Society and leading advisers

  • De Morgan, A. (1868). Some account of James Dodson F.R.S. JIA 14: 341-364.
  • Sibbett, T.A. (1990-1991). Richard Price 1723-1791: preacher, philosopher and actuary. Fiasco 122 January (1990): 4-6; 123 February (1990): 6-8; The Actuary April (1991): 25-28.

Actuaries to the Society

Contemporary reports and studies of the Society's mortality experience

  • Elderton, W.P. (1933). William Morgan F.R.S., 1750-1833. JIA 64: 364-365. [Exposition of tables in manuscript by William Morgan: ‘Comparison of the Decrements of Life in the Society with those of the Northampton Table 1790’, ‘Comparison of the Decrements of Life as above for 29 years from 1768 to 1796’, ‘‘Comparison of the Decrements of Life in the Society with those in Dodson’s & Halley’s & Simpson’s Tables’ ’Surplus stock of the Equitable Society determined on January 1st 1776 by finding the seperate [sic] Interests of the Members in their respective Policies &c. &c.’]
  • Report: Equitable Society. JIA (1848-1851) 1: 95-100.
  • Report: Equitable Life Assurance Society. JIA (1852-1853) 3: 349-354.
  • Report: Equitable Life Assurance Society. JIA (1853-1854) 4: 379-380.
  • Morgan, W. [1831-1897, grandson of William Morgan, 1750-1833] (1864-1866) Correspondence: The D, N, &c. columns of the Equitable Experience. JIA 12: 235-238.
  • William Palin Elderton and Maurice E Ogborn (1943). The mortality of adult males since the middle of the eighteenth century as shown by the experience of life assurance companies. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society 106(1): 1-31.
  • Ogborn, M.E. and Storr-Best, R.H. (1959). Arthur Morgan's mortality experience. JIA 85: 300-309 [on the consolidated experience of lives assured 1762-1829]

Books and papers feature exposition of the Society's archives

  • Report in 1761 of the Attorney and Solicitor-General on the petition for a charter for the Equitable Life Assurance Society. JIA (Assurance Magazine) (1848-1851) 1(2): 89*-92*.(Transcript of Solicitor-General’s initial rejection of the application for a charter establishing the Society for Equitable Assurances.)
  • Institute of Actuaries (1948). Catalogue of exhibition illustrating the history of actuarial science in Great Britain with special reference to the Institute of Actuaries, 21-25 June 1948. Proceedings of the Institute of Actuaries Centenary Assembly. (Cambridge University Press, 1950).(Several manuscripts and items then belonging to the Equitable Life Assurance Society were lent to this exhibition.)
  • Thomas, D.O. and Peach, B. (eds.) (1983). The correspondence of Richard Price. Volume I. July 1748 – March 1778. (Cardiff: University of Wales, 1983). ‘Appendix. Calendar with extracts of the correspondence of Richard Price and John Edwards, Actuary of the Equitable Society, contained in MS Letterbook belonging to the Equitable Life Assurance Society.’
  • Haberman, S. and Sibbett, T.A. (eds.) (1995). History of actuarial science: Volume V. Life insurance. (London: William Pickering, 1995). Includes:
    • James Dodson, "First lecture on Insurances" [manuscript] (1756)
    • [Edward Rowe Mores], A Short Account of the Society for Equitable Assurances on Lives and Survivorships’, established by Deed inrolled in His Majesty’s Court of King’s-Bench at Westminster. London, 1762.
    • William Morgan, "Comparison of the Decrements of Life in the Society with those of the Northampton Table 1790", "Comparison of the Decrements of Life as above for 29 years from 1768 to 1796", "Comparison of the Decrements of Life in the Society with those in Dodson’s & Halley’s & Simpson’s Tables", "Surplus stock of the Equitable Society determined on January 1st 1776 by finding the seperate [sic] of the Members in their respective Policies &c. &c." (Manuscript reproduced in {link to:}William Morgan F.R.S., 1750-1833{/documents/william-morgan-frs-1750-1833}, JIA 64 (1933): 364-365.)
    • William Morgan, The Doctrine of Annuities and Assurances on Lives and Survivorships, stated and explained by William Morgan… To which is added, An Introduction addressed to the Society… By the Reverend Dr. [Richard] Price., 1779.

Selected reference works on actuarial and insurance history

  • Anderson, J.G. (1940). The birthplace and genesis of life assurance and other essays. With an introduction by Sir William Palin Elderton. 2nd edition. (London: Frederick Muller, 1940).
  • Cox,P.R. and Storr-Best, R.H. (1962). Surplus in British life assurance: actuarial control over its emergence and distribution during 200 years. (Cambridge University Press, 1962).
  • Surplus: two hundred years of actuarial advance. JIA 89: 19-60. (A presentation on their book by the authors)
  • Raynes, H.E. (1964). A history of British insurance. 2nd edition. (London: Isaac Pitman, 1964).
  • Haberman, S. and Sibbett, T.A. (eds.) (1995). History of actuarial science. (London: William Pickering, 1995). [Facsimile presentation of transcripts of original texts in ten volumes].
  • Lewin, C.G. (2003). Pensions and insurance before 1800. (Tuckwell Press, 2003).

The Equitable Archive and genealogical research

  • Bowsher, E. (2019). Assessing the genealogical value of a potential new source: the value of the Equitable Life Assurance Society archives, 1762-1835. The Journal of Genealogy and Family History 3(1): 41-51.

The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) is keen to invite and encourage new researchers to this field and welcomes those researching for expositions on wider history and related topics. Actuaries with experience of historical texts would be happy to share their experiences and offer assistance with research and writing articles.

Contact Details

For any library enquiries please contact:

We try to respond to email queries within one working day. Researcher access to historical resources may require notice in advance of visit in order to retrieve items from storage.

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Events calendar

  • IFoA & PRI Webinar: TCFD – leaders and challenges

    Online webinar
    2 September 2019

    Spaces available

    In collaboration with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, the Principles of Responsible Investment is delighted to host this webinar discussing the response to the TCFD’s recommendations two years on from their publication. The webinar will feature new analysis of the 591 investors representing $45 trillion who responded to PRI’s 2019 climate indicators, insights from the past Chair of the IFoA’s Resource and Environment Board as well as an investor case study of implementation in practice from Aviva. 

  • SIAS Event: Climate Zero to Climate Hero

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    3 September 2019

    Spaces available

    An introductory session to help you get ahead with climate change.

    • Science, terminology and initiatives: handy facts to keep in your back pocket 
    • Getting your point across: how to influence people and avoid common traps and pitfalls
    • Taking action: what are actuaries expected to do...and what are we actually doing?
  • KSS event – The Regulatory Perspective

    Deloitte Saltire Court 20 Castle Terrace Edinburgh EH1 2EG
    5 September 2019

    Spaces available

    This KSS talk, presented by the FCA Head of Department in Scotland, will focus on the following 3 main areas:

    • FCA business plan priorities
    • The future of regulation
    • FCA Engagement in Scotland
  • Professional Skills Training session (Jointly held with China Life)

    China Life Insurance, Beijing •  China Life Shanghai Office • China Life Shenzhen Office  
    6 September 2019

    Spaces available

    Friday, 6 September, Beijing Local Time (CST) 14.00-16.30; British Summer Time (BST) 07.00-9.30

    The IFoA Beijing Office and China Life are pleased to be co-hosting a Professional Skills Training (PST) session in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen on Friday, 6 September. Wen Li (FIA), the IFoA Lead Representative in China and East Asia, will lead the PST presentation and discussion on ‘Getting it right!’.

    The main venue will be in Beijing. Members in Shanghai and Shenzhen can join the interaction with Beijing via video conference at China Life’s regional venues. (see full details below)

  • GIRO Conference 2019

    EICC, The Exchange, 150 Morrison St, Edinburgh EH3 8EE
    24-26 September 2019
    Spaces available

    GIRO is attended annually by over 800 delegates and speakers who are keen to discuss key topics such as Pricing, Reserving, Modelling and the future of the insurance industry. GIRO 2018 was a huge success and we have opened bookings early for what we hope will be another brilliant conference at the EICC in Edinburgh this year. 


  • Chief Actuaries and Senior Life Actuaries Workshop 2019

    Staple Inn Hall High Holborn London WC1V 7QJ
    2 October 2019

    Spaces available

    This workshop, now in its sixth year, is aimed at senior actuaries working in life insurance - predominantly Chief Actuaries, but also Reviewing Actuaries and others working in risk and financial reporting. It will provide seven hours of relevant CPD.

  • The Future of the Actuarial Profession

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn London WC1V 7QJ
    3 October 2019

    Fully booked.


    Three actuaries – and CEOs – discuss their views on how the business world is changing and what that might mean for actuaries in the future.

  • Spaces available

    Have you ever thought about working in wider fields? Would you like to play a role in the fight against climate change to make the planet better? 

    It can be difficult to do this - but seeing an example you can follow can make it more realistic. In this ‘green’ case study a template is outlined to show how actuaries can apply their skills more broadly - and in doing so, to make a difference.

  • RSS/IFoA Data Science Ethics: the role of practitioners

    Royal Statistical Society, 12 Errol St, London EC1Y 8LX
    7 October 2019

    Spaces available

    The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and the Royal Statistical Society have worked together to develop joint ethics guidance on data science. This is the culmination of an 18 month programme of practitioner led work. 
    Join us for the launch of this new guidance, with a high-level panel discussion which will explore the role of data science practitioners and professional bodies in data ethics. 

  • Sessional Meeting - Autonomous Vehicles and impacts on the wider insurance industry

    Staple Inn, High Holborn, London WC1V 7QJ         
    28 October 2019

    Spaces available

    The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries is running a sessional meeting on autonomous vehicles on 28th October.  The session will showcase the work of the IFoA “Autonomous Vehicles” working party alongside a number of expert external presenters. 

  • ARC Event: Beyond Proportional Hazards

    Staple Inn Hall, High Holborn, London, WC1V 7QJ
    30 October 2019

    Spaces available

    ARC Event: Beyond Proportional Hazards: Statistical methods for assessment of the impact of medical advances and health interventions on longevity and population projections.

    This workshop is being delivered by the Actuarial Research Centre’s (ARC) ‘Big Health and Actuarial Data’ Research Programme.

  • Hot Topics in Health and Care: Networking and Drinks

    Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, London WC1V 6DR
    4 November 2019

    Spaces available

    This evening will feature two new cases studies that highlight the implications for insurers of issues impacting on health and mortality for life, pensions, and health and care products; Impactability modelling: a worked example in Type II diabetes presented by Josephine Robertson, and Seasonal Mortality in England and Wales 1993-2016 presented by Mary Hall, Dublin City University.

  • Autumn Pension Seminar

    Grand Connaught Rooms, 61-65 Great Queen St, Holborn, London WC2B 5DA
    13 November 2019

    Spaces available

    Join us for this brand new seminar that brings together our Current Issues in Pensions, Pensions and the Law, and Investment for Pension Actuaries events. The seminar builds on the IFoA’s Annual Pension Conference with sessions covering CDC, TPR’s code of practice, investments, legal updates and Professional Skills Training with a focus on interactive discussion throughout.

    • KSS event: How is Scotland’s population changing and what are the implications?

      Barnett Waddingham, 163 West George Street, Glasgow, G2 2JJ
      14 November 2019

      Spaces available

      The National Records of Scotland (NRS) collects, preserves and produces information about Scotland's people and history to inform current and future generations - work that underpins the fabric of Scottish society and tells the story of our nation. This KSS talk will explore the following and other areas impacting Scotland’s changing population, and assess the potential implications of the changes:

      • population statistics
      • life expectancy
      • changes in age structure
      • birth and death rates, including causes of death statistics.
    • Life Conference 2019

      The Convention Centre Dublin, Spencer Dock, North Wall Quay, Dublin 1
      20-22 November 2019
      Spaces available

      The Life Conference is the premier event for professionals interested in life insurance.  Offering a wide range of workshops and plenary sessions it’s the perfect opportunity to discover what’s hot and current in life insurance ensuring you get up to date on the latest thinking and innovation whilst meeting and exchanging ideas with a broad range of professionals.

    • Autumn Lecture 2019, London - Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP

      Lincoln's Inn The Treasury Office, London WC2A 3TL
      2 December 2019

      Fully booked.

      The IFoA is pleased to announce that this year’s Autumn Lecture will feature the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP as its guest speaker.  Nicky has previously served as Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Minister for Women. She now chairs the Treasury Select Committee whose remit is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of HM Treasury, along with all of its agencies and associated bodies.

    • Autumn Lecture 2019: Live Streaming

      2 December 2019

      Spaces available

      Watch the live stream of this year's Autumn Lecture with guest speaker Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP. 

    • Behavioural Finance Research Launch- 14 January 2020

      Staple Inn, 4 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 6DR
      14 January 2020

      Spaces available

      We are delighted to announce the launch of the findings from our ARC funded Behavioural Finance research with a special evening event at Staple Inn on Tuesday14th January 2020. Entitled Behavioural Aspects of Institutional Investment Decision-Making, this research programme is being delivered by City, University of London, Leeds University Business School and Ipsos.