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Among the many original insurance policies at the Davis Library, the earliest is a handwritten policy on vellum dated November 26, 1655. It measures about 7 x 9.5 inches and has five ties at the bottom corner.

The handwriting is elegant but difficult to read. We have transcribed much of the text below. If anyone can contribute to our transcription, please leave a comment below or email us and we will update this post with the new information provided.

1655 Fire Insurance Policy side 1* click on image to zoom in


Know by all men these presents that we the right honorable William Lord Marquesse of Herftes, Stephan Bowman of Compton Chamberlyane, in the County of Wilts Gont, Thomas Keylway of Lions from London Gont, Thomas Gape of the Middle Temple London Gont and George Thomas of Easten in the said County of Wilts Gont are bound and firmly obliged unto Henry ? of the ? Temple London in One Thousand pounds of lawful mony of England to be paid to the said Henry ? or to his ordayne. Attorney his  ? or assignds. To which paymt will and faithfully to be made We binde ourselves and every of us by himself for the whole and in the whole our and every of our heirs, appoints and admes by those sealed our seals the six and twentieth day of November in the Yeare of our Lord God One Thousand Six Hundred fifty and five.

Sealed and delivered by the above bound the marquesse of herfts, Stephen Bowman, and George Thomas in the presence of … W. Leuett, John Nye, John Shenton,

Sealed and delivered by the above bound  Thomas Keylway and Thomas Gape in the presence of Tho., John Shenton, John Hundreth.

Hertford, Bowman, Thomas Keylway, Thomas Gape, George Thomas.

1655 Fire Insurance Policy side 2* click on image to zoom in


The condition of this obligation is such that if the ? right honorable William Lord Marquese of ? Stephen Boromom, Thomas Keylway, Thomas Gayes, and George Thomas and their ? ? or assignors, or any of whom ? will and truly pay or ? to be paid unto  ?? named Benny Ehoot his ? or assigns, the forms of five hundred and fifty one pounds of lawful money of England, upon the eight and twentieth day of May ? written ? or ? the ? dwelling house of Thomas Bostock ? ? the Royal Exchange in London, ? this obligation to be void or ? it to stand in full force and virtue.

? The 28 day 1656