It started in coffee houses….The second half of the seventeenth century was an era of burgeoning trade, in the absence of mass media, the coffee houses emerged as the primary source of news and rumour.
Edward Lloyd’s coffee house was opened near the Thames on Tower Street in London in 1685. The coffee house was “spacious, well built and inhabited by able tradesmen” according to a contemporary publication. Later in 1691 it was transferred to 16 Lombard Street which was very close to the centre of English maritime trade.
It was from this coffee house that Edward Lloyd launched his “Lloyd’s List” in 1696 which was filled with information on ship arrivals and departures and included some intelligence on conditions abroad and at sea. This list was eventually enlarged to provide daily news on stock prices, foreign markets, and high-water times at London Bridge and reports of accidents and sinkings.
In 1771, seventy-nine of the underwriters who did business at Lloyd’s subscribed £100 each and joined together in the Society of Lloyd’s, an unincorporated group of individual entrepreneurs operating under a self-regulated code of behaviour. These were the original Members of Lloyd’s; later, members came to be known as “Names.” It was from this coffee house that Lloyd’s of London was established which eventually became the largest insurance company of the world.