Accessing the Index and the Records
‘A Place in the Sun’ was started in 2003 by a team of volunteers. It is an index to a part of the series of Sun Fire Office policy registers held at Guildhall Library (Guildhall Library Ms 11936). The index to 125 volumes (nos. 419-560) of the policy registers, covering the period 1800-1839, is available via the National Archives website. Work is continuing on earlier volumes.
Each register contains details of around 1500-2000 policies issued from the Sun’s London offices. Most of the policyholders lived in London or insured property held there, but a substantial number of country properties is also included.
The index is intended as a guide to the contents of the registers and not a substitute for the original records. It is up to the user to interpret the information found. The index includes the date and number of the policy, the volume number of the policy register in which the entry is contained, the policyholder’s name, address, occupation or status, and any special capacity in which the policy was taken out (e.g. as executor or trustee). Names and occupations of other people mentioned (such as resident landlords or tenants) are also indexed. The location of the property insured, which might be land or chattels, is given where it differs from the address of the policyholder and is sufficiently specific. Also indexed are the names of insured vessels, with their masters where given. The index does not include details of other moveable property insured (except specified works of art or literature), amounts insured or premium payments. These can be found in the original register entries.
Some of the entries are very complex, and the following rules have been adopted to help the user interpret the information:
Wherever possible the index follows the clerk’s spelling of place, street and personal names. In formulating a search, it should be born in mind that, like a personal name, a street or place name may take more than one form. For example, there are alternative spellings of some place names (e.g. Marybone, Rotherithe, Kilbourn). Some, such as Horselydown and Chingford, attract several variants, as do some provincial place names. Street names such as Pulteney, Rosoman or St Ann’s also attract variants. Names such as Spitalfields or Coldbath may be spelled as one or as two words.
Modern county names are given their modern spellings (e.g. Surrey, not Surry; Gloucestershire, not County of Gloster) but superseded names (e.g. county of Southampton) appear as in the registers.
No attempt has been made to gloss place names as understood when the registers were compiled. Many street names, like numbers, have been changed, and locations may not have their modern connotation. For example, Regent Street in the West End may occur in the registers as Regent Street St James’s, whereas ‘Regent Street Westminster’ refers to what is now Regency Street, off Horseferry Road. ‘Soho’ may extend north of Oxford Street, and there are several area names now obsolete, for example ’Foundling’ (near the Foundling Hospital); ‘Hospital Fields’ (behind the London Hospital, Whitechapel); ‘Middlesex Hospital’ (part of Marylebone).
Accessing the Index and the Records
To consult the index go to the National Archives website. You can use the search bar that you see at the top right hand side of the home page. Enter your search term in the box. You can enter a personal name, address, place name or occupation, but to ensure that the Place in the Sun records are given priority in the search, include the word ‘insured’ in the box with your specific search term. This will produce a list of relevant results which you can click on to obtain the full manuscript reference and policy number (in the form Ms 11936/123/123456).
The Sun Fire Office policy registers are available for consultation at Guildhall Library free of charge until 12pm on 17th April 2009. They can be seen without prior appointment or special permission, Monday to Saturday, 9.30am - 4.45pm (last orders for manuscripts at 4.30pm; on Saturdays manuscripts cannot be produced between 12 noon and 2pm). Documents will usually be made available within 15 minutes of being requested. After the closure they can be consulted on similar terms at London Metropolitan Archives (though on fewer Saturdays).
Scans of individual policies can be ordered. Orders should be on an official reprographics order form and accompanied by payment in full. Please email the Manuscripts Section with details of the number of policies you wish to order and your country of residence, so that the cost of copying and postage can be worked out.
Last updated September 2009
Leaflet Guides to Records
Fire Insurance Records at Guildhall Library leaflet
Business Records at Guildhall Library
Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section