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London Metropolitan Archives



Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/B/079-03

Held at: London Metropolitan Archives


Date(s): 1823-1982

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 105 production units.

Name of creator(s): Reversionary Interest Society


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Reversionary Interest Society was formed under a Deed of Settlement of 1823 to purchase reversionary interests in real and personal property and life policies, and life interests. The founder of the Society is generally supposed to have been George Stephen (later knighted on the accession of Queen Victoria) who was its first solicitor. The Society was the first of its kind, although private dealing in reversionary interests had long existed.

The immediate object of the Society was to raise a fund to enable it to make purchases of reversionary interests or reversions. The Society wished to purchase reversions with a view to making a profit between purchase and recovery (when the reversion had "fallen-in" and the property was "recovered"). The profit would be appropriated to the payment of dividends or to reserves.

The early success of the Society brought about the establishment of similar societies such as the Equitable Reversionary Interest Society in 1835 and the General Reversionary Society in 1836. This success, combined with a favourable financial climate, encouraged the Society to increase its powers in 1845 by an Act of Parliament (8-9 Victoria c. 146) which authorised (amongst other things) a large increase in capital. However, an economic depression set in almost immediately. The Directors also fell out with Sir George Stephen, whose connection with the Society was severed. The Society subsequently concentrated on the purchase of life policies.

In the early days, the Society had no power to lend money. However, an Act of 1857 (20-1 Victoria c.3) enabled the Society to grant loans at interest secured on reversions and life interests. This power was used sparingly at first, but a great expansion of loans business in the 1870s allowed the Society to build up a large surplus.

In 1880, the Reversionary Interest Society became a company limited by shares. The Society was acquired in 1919 by the Equitable Life Assurance Society which also purchased the Equitable Reversionary Interest Society in the following year. Thereafter the fortunes of the two reversionary interest societies were complementary. New business was brought to an end in 1977, although the Equitable Life Assurance Society continues to look after current investments.

The Society's head office was located as follows: 17 King's Arms Yard, Coleman Street (1823-97); 30 Coleman Street (1897-1924); 19 Coleman Street (1924-66); 4 Coleman Street (1966 onwards).


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Reversionary Interest Society, including out-letter books; deeds of settlement; minute books; annual reports; administrative papers; papers relating to shareholders; financial accounts; actuary's reports; legal papers; property deeds; and notes on the history of the Society.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Records arranged by MS number, assigned during cataloguing at the Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information may be subject to access restrictions.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The main body of the records (Ms 24927 and Ms 25063- 25095) was deposited in the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library by the Equitable Life Assurance Society on 25 March and 18 June 1992. In November 2006, the Actuarial Profession (comprising the Faculty of Actuaries and the Institute of Actuaries) funded the purchase acquisition of all the records of the Equitable Reversionary Interest Society and the Reversionary Interest Society (with the exception of Ms 19029), together with the pre-1950 records of the Equitable Life Assurance Society itself. These records are therefore held as a deposit from the Actuarial Profession, and enquiries relating to publication should be addressed to the Librarian at the Institute of Actuaries, Staple Inn, High Holborn, WC1V 7QJ. The volumes comprising Ms 19029 were previously in the possession of an employee of the Society whose widow gave them to the Society of Genealogists which donated them to Guildhall Library. The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009.


DESCRIPTION NOTES Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: November 2010 to January 2011.

Assurance companies | Companies | Enterprises
Business records | Documents | Information sources
Insurance policies | Insurance records | Documents | Information sources
Insurance services | Financial service industries | Service industries
Interest | Finance
Life insurance | Insurance | Finance

Personal names

Corporate names
Reversionary Interest Society

City of London | London | England | UK | Western Europe | Europe