Warren Insurance Company Records
Marine insurance, Warren, R.I.
Records, 1794-1901. Bulk, 1805-1844.
Size: 3.5 linear feet
Catalog number: MSS 159
Processed by: Rick Stattler, August 1996USE MICROFILM E445 .R4, part 2, reel 30 (only policy books 1 and 2)
©Rhode Island Historical Society
The Warren Insurance Company was incorporated in 1800 with 400 shares and total capital of $40,000. Its primary business was marine insurance, serving Warren's booming mercantile trade. The fifth article of the company's charter found in their Record Book for 1799-1800 stated that they offered insurance policies for any vessel "excepting on vessels, or property laden therein, for the purpose of carrying on the Slave-Trade." However, the records and policies of the Warren Insurance Company provide conflicting information about and their involvement in insuring slave traders. The company seems to have been less active after 1845, but continued to elect directors. As late as 1885, George L. Cooke Jr. was serving as secretary of the company.
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Scope and content:
The most important part of this collection, and certainly the most voluminous, is probably the series of 14 policy books, covering the years 1805 to 1844 in a complete run. Unfortunately, the earliest policies (numbered #1 - #500) are not in the collection. Other noteworthy items are the company's first record book; a director's minute book dated 1807-1885; a good run of statements from 1811 to 1838; scattered correspondence and applications for insurance; and some evidence regarding claims filed against the company. Noteworthy among the correspondents are William F. Megee, Samuel Vernon, Brown & Ives, and John Innes Clark.
There is also a series of correspondence regarding French spoliation claims. Although many American ships were lost during hostilities with France in 1798 and 1799, the United States government made no provision for pursuing claims on these losses until 1885. Filing these claims on behalf of heirs of merchants was a growth industry for lawyers in the following years, and George L. Cooke Jr. was active both as a lawyer on behalf of claimants, and as secretary of the Warren Insurance Company.
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The provenance of the bulk of this collection, consisting of 13 policy books, is unknown. The appearance of the catalog card suggests a date not much later than 1965. Much of the remainder of the collection has been purchased in bits and pieces from manuscript dealers during the past thirty years. This includes 275 items from Charles Apfelbaum in 1986, 39 letters and other items from Tyson's Book Shop in 1964 and 1966, and 278 items from Nino Scotti in 1973. The 1973 and 1986 accessions are so similar that they must have been two parts of the same estate.
Gifts to the collection include the 1805-1806 policy book, donated by John Stephan in honor of Norman Herreshoff in 1989. The series on French spoliation claims was possibly donated by Richmond Sweet on behalf of the estate of Norman M. Robertson in 1958. Three important early record books came from the estate of George L. Cooke in 1937. Two letters were donated by Frederick S. Peck as part of the large Peck Collection in 1944.
More detailed information on the provenance of each folder can be found in list in the collection file at the repository, and is also generally written on the actual folders.
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Most of the individual accessions had been processed as they arrived. In 1996, these accessions were integrated, with care taken to note the provenance of each part. Some portions were reorganized at this time. The 1986 accession had never been processed. It arrived from the dealer without the original order; the claims files were undoubtedly arranged by claim at one point, but no effort has been made to restore that order.
The series on French spoliation claims was for many years filed under "F" as a separate collection, and was added to the W.I.C. Records in 1994.
One item found in the 1986 accession was transferred to the Timothy Green Papers (MSS 450): a letter from L. Gould to Timothy Green of Worcester, 5/26/1786. This had no apparent relation to the rest of the collection. It may have been accidentally misfiled in 1986 by the curator, or mistakenly included by the dealer. It may have come down through the same family that held the W.I.C. records.
Parts of this collection (policy books: vol. 1 1805-1806 and vol. 2 1806-1809) are available on microfilm as a part of:
Schipper, Martin P, comp., A guide to the microfilm edition of Papers of the American Slave Trade. Bethesda, MD: University Publications of America, 2001.
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Box 1, folder 1. Record book, 1799-1800. Includes charter, minutes, list of original stockholders, some accounts.
Box 1, folder 2. Director's minutes, 1807-1885.
Box 1, folder 3. Letter book, 1807-1822. Copies of outgoing letters written by officers.
Box 1, folder 4. Letters received, 1801-1822. 25 items.
Box 1, folder 5. Letters received, 1802-1843. 12 items.
Also, 1864 letter found in minute book.
Box 1, folder 6. Letters etc. re French spoliation claims, 1800-1842.
Box 1, folder 7. Circular letters re spoliation claims, 1831-1842.
Applications. Loose requests for insurance, signed by directors and assigned a policy number. Not a complete series.
Box 1, folder 1. 1801-1819 and undated.
Box 2, folder 2. 1822-1843.
Claims. Evidence presented in support of insurance claims. Not a complete series.
Box 2, folder 3. 1804-1819
Box 2, folder 4. 1820-1840
Box 2, folder 5. 1831, brig Brother
Box 2, folder 6. Undated memos and fragments.
Box 3 (oversized), folder 1. Redeemed policies, 1794, 1804-1841.
Crew list, brig New Columbia, 1818.
Statements. These are nearly complete.
Box 3 (oversized), folder 2. 1811-1818, biannual balance statements.
Box 2, folder 7. 1819-1846, biannual balance statements.
Box 3 (oversized), folder 3. 1806, 1826, 1830-1838, premium notes.
Box 2, folder 8. 1807-1847, premium notes.
Box 2, folder 9. 1811-1818, premium notes.
Stock and dividends.
Box 2, folder 10. 1813-1821, stock sales.
Box 2, folder 11. 1826-1831, assignment of dividends
Miscellaneous receipts. For newspaper subscriptions, taxes, legal fees, etc.
Box 2, folder 12. 1804-1819 and undated.
Box 2, folder 13. 1820-1845
Box 2, folder 14. 1817-1845.
French spoliation claims. Papers of Geo. L. Cooke Jr. as secretary, and as partner in Cooke & Pegram.
Box 2, folder 15. Letters rec'd from claimants, 1885-1889
Box 2, folder 16. Letters rec'd, research and legal, 1885-1889
Box 2, folder 17. Research notes, 1885-1889
Box 2, folder 18. Research notes, undated, ca. 1885-1889
Box 2, folder 19. Misc., 1885-1889
Box 2, folder 20. Letters, etc., 1901
Box 2, folder 21. Fragile items (copies interfiled)
Policy books: Unless noted, these volumes are wrapped and bound in twine.
Volume 1. 1805-1806 for policies 501-750 (oversized, in separate box).
Volume 2. 1806-1809
Volume 3. 1809-1810
Volume 4. 1811 (not wrapped)
Volume 5. 1811-1816 (not wrapped)
Volume 6. 1816-1817
Volume 7. 1817-1820
Volume 8. 1820-1823
Volume 9. 1823-1826
Volume 10. 1826-1830
Volume 11. 1831-1834
Volume 12. 1834-1838
Volume 13. 1838-1841
Volume 14. 1841-1844
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Brown & Ives
Clark, John Innes (1745-1808)
Cooke, George L. Jr.
French spoliation claims
Insurance, Marine - Rhode Island - Warren
Megee, William F. (1765-1820)
Shipping - Rhode Island - Warren
Vernon, Samuel (1757-1834)
Warren, R.I. - Business records
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