London coffee houses and taverns
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Lloyds coffee house : London coffee houses and taverns
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LLOYD'S COFFEE-HOUSE, Lombard-street, at the corner of Abchurch lane; subsequently in Pope's head
Lloyd's is one of the earliest establishments of the kind ; it is referred to in
a poem printed in the year 1700, called the Wealthy Shopkeeper, or Charitable
" Now to Lloyd's coffee-house he never fails,
To read the letters, and attend the sales."
In 1710, Steele (Tatler, No. 246,) dates from Lloyd's his Petition on
Coffee-house Orators and Newsvendors. And Addison, in Spectator, April 23, 1711,
droll incident : — " About a week since there happened to me a very odd
accident, by reason of which one of these my papers of minutes which I had
accidentally dropped at Lloyd's Coffee-house, where the auctions are usually
kept. Before I missed it, there were a cluster of people who had found it, and
were diverting themselves with it at one end of the coffee-house. It had raised
so much laughter among them before I observed what they were about, that I had
not the courage to own it. The boy of the coffee-house, when they had done with
it, carried it about in his hand, asking everybody if they had dropped a written
paper ; but nobody challenging it, he was ordered by those merry gentlemen who
had before perused it, to get up into the auction-pulpit, and read it to the
whole room, that if anybody would own it, they might. The boy accordingly
mounted the pulpit, and with a very audible voice read what proved to be
minutes, which made the whole coffee-house very merry ; some of them concluded
it was written by a madman, and others by somebody that had been taking notes
out of the Spectator. After it was read, and the boy was coming out of the
pulpit, the Spectator reached his arm out, and desired the boy to give it him ;
which was done according. This drew the whole eyes of the company upon the
Spectator ; but after casting a cursory glance over it, he shook his head twice
or thrice at the reading of it, twisted it into a kind of match, and lighted his
pipe with it. "My profound silence" says the Spectator, "together with the
steadiness of my countenance, and the gravity of my behaviour during the whole
transaction, raised a very loud laugh on all sides of me ; but as I had escaped
all suspicion of being the author, I was very well satisfied, and applying
myself to my pipe and the Postman, took no further notice of anything that
passed about me.' "
Nothing is positively known of the original Lloyd ; but in 1750, there was
issued an Irregular Ode, entitled A Summer's Farewell to the Gulph of Venice, in
the Southwell Frigate, Captain Manly, jun., commanding, stated to be ' ' printed
for Lloyd, well-known for obliging the public with the Freshest and Most
Authentic Ship News, and sold by A. More, near St. Paul's, and at the Pamphlet
Shops in London and Westminster, mdccl."
In the Gentleman's Magazine, for 1740, we read : —
" 11 March, 1740, Mr. Baker, Master of Lloyd's Coffee-house, in Lombard-street,
waited on Sir Robert Walpole with the news of Admiral Vernon's taking Porto-
bello. This was the first account received thereof, and proving true, Sir Robert
was pleased to order him a handsome present."
Lloyd's is, perhaps, the oldest collective establishment in the City. It was
first under the management of a single individual, who started it as a room
where the underwriters and insurers of ships' cargoes could meet for refreshment
and conversation. The Coffee-house was originally in Lombard-street, at the
corner of Abchurch lane; subsequently in Pope's head alley, where it was
called "New Lloyd's Coffee-house;" but on February 14th, 1774, it was removed to
the north-west corner of the Royal Exchange, where it remained until the
destruction of that building by fire.
In rebuilding the Exchange, a fine suite of apartments was provided for Lloyd's
" Subscription Rooms," which are the rendezvous of the most eminent merchants,
ship-owners, underwriters, insurance, stock, and exchange brokers. Here is
obtained the earliest news of the arrival and sailing of vessels, losses at sea,
captures, re-captures, engagements, and other shipping intelligence ; and
proprietors of ships and freights are insured by the underwriters. The rooms are
in the Venetian style, with Roman enrichments. They are — 1. The Subscribers' or
Underwriters', the Merchants', and the Captains' Room. At the entrance of the
room are exhibited the Shipping Lists, received from Lloyd's agents at home and
abroad, and affording particulars of departures or arrivals of vessels, wrecks,
salvage, or sale of property saved, etc. To the right and left are " Lloyd's
Books," two enormous ledgers: right hand, ships " spoken with," or arrived at
their destined ports ; left hand : records of wrecks, fires, or severe
collisions, written in a fine Roman hand, in " double lines." To assist the
underwriters in their calculations, at the end of the room is an Anemometer,
which registers the state of the wind day and night ; attached is a rain-gauge.
The life of the underwriter is one of great anxiety and speculation. "Among the
old stagers of the room, there is often strong antipathy to the insurance of
certain ships. In the case of one vessel it was strangely followed out. She was
a steady trader, named after one of the most venerable members of the room ; and
it was a curious coincidence that he invariably refused to ' write her ' for ' a
single line.' Often he was joked upon the subject, and pressed to 'do a little'
for his namesake; but he as often declined, shaking his head in a doubtful
manner. One morning the subscribers were reading the 'double lines,' or the
losses, and among them was this identical ship, which had gone to pieces, and
become a total wreck." — The City, 2nd edit., 1848.
The Merchants' Room is superintended by a master, who can speak several
languages : here are duplicate copies of the books in the underwriters' room,
and files of English and foreign newspapers.
The Captains' Room is a kind of coffee-room, where merchants and ship-owners
meet captains, and sales of ships, etc. take place.
The members of Lloyd's have ever been distinguished by their loyalty and
benevolent spirit. In 1802, they voted 2000l. to the Life-boat subscription. On
July 20, 1803, at the invasion panic, they commenced the Patriotic Fund with
20,000l. 3-per-cent. Consols ; besides 70,312/. 7s. individual subscriptions,
and 15,000l. additional donations. After the battle of the Nile, in 1798, they
collected for the widows and wounded seamen 32,423l. ; and after Lord Howe's
victory, June 1, 1794, for similar purposes, 21,281l. They have also contributed
5000l. to the London Hospital ; 1000l. for the suffering inhabitants of Russia
in 1813 ; 1000l. for the relief of the militia in our North American colonies,
1813 ; and 10,000l. for the Waterloo subscription, in 1815. The Committee vote
medals and rewards to those who distinguish themselves in saving life from
Some years since, a member of Lloyd's drew from the books the following lines of
names contained therein : —
" A Black and a White, with a Brown and a Green,
And also a Gray at Lloyd's room may be seen ;
With Parson and Clark, then a Bishop and Pryor,
And Water, how Strange adding fuel to fire ;
While, at the same time, 'twill sure pass belief,
There's a Winter, a Garland, Furze, Bud, and a Leaf;
With Freshfield, and Greenhill, Lovegrove, and a Dale ;
Though there's never a Breeze, there's always a Gale.
No music is there, though a Whistler and Harper ;
There's a Blunt and a Sharp, many flats, but no sharper.
There's a Danniell, a Samuel, a Sampson, an Abell ;
The first and the last write at the same table.
Then there's Virtue and Faith there, with Wylie and Rasch,
Disagreeing elsewhere, yet at Lloyd's never clash,
There's a Long and a Short, Small, Little, and Fatt,
With one Robert Dewar, who ne'er wears his hat :
No drinking goes on, though there's Porter and Sack,
Lots of Scotchmen there are, beginning with Mac ;
Macdonald, to wit, Macintosh and McGhie,
McFarquhar, McKenzie, McAndrew, Mackie.
An evangelized Jew, and an infidel Quaker ;
There's a Bunn and a Pye, with a Cook and a Baker,
Though no Tradesmen or Shopmen are found, yet herewith
Is a Taylor, a Saddler, a Paynter, a Smyth ;
Also Butler and Chapman, with Butter and Glover,
Come up to Lloyd's room their bad risks to cover.
Fox, Shepherd, Hart, Buck, likewise come every day ;
And though many an ass, there is only one Bray.
There is a Mill and Miller, A-dam and a Poole,
A Constable, Sheriff, a Law, and a Rule.
There's a Newman, a Niemann, a Redman, a Pitman,
Now to rhyme with the last, there is no other fit man.
These, with Young, Cheap, and Lent, Luckie, Hastie, and Slow,
With dear Mr. Allnutt, Allfrey, and Auldjo,
Are all the queer names that at Lloyd's I can show."
Many of these individuals are now deceased ; but a frequenter of Lloyd's in
former years will recognize the persons mentioned.
A number of people are listed in directories as running the Lloyds coffee house
in Royal Exchange, with Bennett & White in 1805, and 1822; John Bolton in 1832;
William Mabey in 1848 and W E Mabey in 1874. See more detail
The 1829 Robsons directory places
Grey & Bolton, at the Lloyds Coffee House, Royal Exchange
Lots of references are made to two sources on the
Edward Callows, Old London Taverns &
John Timbs, Club life of London Volume 2
My Pub history sites.
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the 1832 and 1842 street directory
And Last updated on: Monday, 11-Nov-2019 10:13:09 GMT
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