AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area


Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/B/192-13
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Date(s): 1807-1985
Level of description: Collection
View parent record
Extent: 199 production units.
Name of creator(s): County Fire Office Ltd


Administrative/Biographical history:

The County Fire Office was founded in 1807 by John Thomas Barber (from 1812 John Thomas Barber Beaumont) to conduct fire insurance business in county areas, specifically country-house and farming risks. It was originally established by 'an association of noblemen and gentlemen' from the counties of Bedford, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Middlesex, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire and Yorkshire.

Each county (Yorkshire was treated as three counties) was allocated 250 shares at 100 each. No individual was allowed to hold more than ten shares. Five people were elected in each county as directors from holders of not less than five shares each; one retired annually to be replaced by another elected by ballot at annual county meetings.

A unique feature of the company was that each person who continued a policy for seven years, whether annual or septennial, was entitled to share in the profits of the concern without being liable to any losses. J T Barber was appointed the first managing director and upon his death in 1841 was succeeded by his son John Augustus Barber Beaumont. He retired in 1877 and was replaced by his son, Seymour Augustus Beaumont, until his suicide in 1906.

The County Fire Office was originally administered under a Deed of Settlement of 25 February 1808 and later amendments. It was registered as a limited company on 1 August 1905 and the business was acquired by the Alliance Assurance Company in 1906, but the name of the County Fire Office was retained.

The Company started business from the residence of J T Barber Beaumont at 25 Southampton Street, Covent Garden. On 1 Decemder 1819 it moved to 50 Regent Street, which remained its head office until 1970, except for a short period between October 1924 and June 1927 during the rebuilding of 50 Regent Street, when it moved to York House, 15 Regent Street. During the Second World War the business was conducted from Hindhead, Surrey. The name disappears from the London Directories after 1970.

Business was conducted through agents, and offices were gradually opened in major towns and cities throughout the U.K. Its offices in the City of London were at 2 Royal Exchange Buildings, 1849-1855; 78 Lombard Street, 1857-[1867]; 14 Cornhill, 1856-1909; and 4 Lombard Street, 1909-1941.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the County Fire Office Limited, including instructions to agents; deed of constitution; deeds of settlement; papers relating to the takeover by Alliance Assurance Company; minutes; annual reports and accounts; financial records; share registers; specimen policies; correspondence; policy registers; registers of fires in London; staff registers; newsletters; papers relating to office premises; notes on the history of the Company; and photographs.

The archives contain many references to the Provident Life Office, the sister company of the County Fire Office, with which it shared many of its premises and staff.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

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

Conditions governing access:

48 hours notice required for access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The main archives were deposited in the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library by the Royal & Sun Alliance in September 1996 following the deposit of miscellaneous items (Mss 15181, 15665-6,18574, 18816-7) in 1976 and 1979. Mss 38418-418A were purchased by Guildhall Library in 2007. The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009.

Allied Materials

Related material:

See CLC/B/192-02 for the Alliance Assurance Company, and CLC/B/192-33 for the Provident Life Office.

Publication note:

The County Fire Office 1807-1957: A Commemorative History by Aubrey Noakes (London, 1957) is available in the Printed Books Section of Guildhall Library.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

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:
January to May 2011.

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Corporate Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Placename Search

* To search for other records with similar placenames, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"