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John Julius Angerstein

John Julius Angerstein


John Julius Angerstein (1735-1823) was a successful businessman, who primarily worked in the marine insurance business, as both a broker and underwriter. He was also a financier, shipowner, art collector and philanthropist. Angerstein was reputed to be one of the founding subscribers of New Lloyd’s Coffee House in 1771. He served on Lloyd’s Committee from 1786-1796 and is seen as a key figure in the development of the Lloyd’s insurance market. Policies led by Angerstein were known as ‘Julians’ and were widely respected in the market.

Towards the latter part of the 19th century, Angerstein was heralded as ‘The Father of Lloyd’s’ and came to symbolise what was viewed as ‘the Golden Age of Marine Insurance’[1] of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Much later, he was depicted as the hero of a 1936 Twentieth Century Fox movie made about Lloyd’s. His prominence in the history of Lloyd’s, has led us to examine the ways in which he and the wider Lloyd’s market were involved in the trans-Atlantic slave trade. 

We are now beginning to understand how the City of London provided the complex and sophisticated financial and mercantile networks that facilitated – and in turn drew strength from – the slave trade and the slave economy. The business of slavery was not just located in slave owners and slave traders but was far wider, entwined in everyday economic infrastructures and networks. Lloyd’s, as the global centre for insuring shipping, played an integral role. We are deeply sorry for the Lloyd’s market’s participation in the transatlantic slave trade. It is part of our shared history that caused enormous suffering and continues to have a negative impact on Black and Minority Ethnic communities today.

During this time many of those involved with Lloyd’s amassed their fortunes in line with the extractive economics of empire. Angerstein was one of those and a key member of the City of London’s financial networks. Although conclusive evidence does not survive, it is clear that part of his wealth was derived from the slave economy. This allowed him to act as a significant philanthropist. He was Chairman of various committees set up to support the wounded and widowed of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, which brought him into direct contact with Admiral Lord Nelson. He later chaired Lloyd’s Patriotic Fund, which still exists today working with armed forces charities to help individuals and their families in need of support. He supported numerous charities and was instrumental in establishing the Lifeboat Fund. He was also an important collector of fine art. After his death, 38 paintings from Angerstein’s collection formed the basis of the National Gallery’s collection.

There is no evidence that Angerstein was a slave-trader or slave-owner. However, work by leading academics and the University College London’s, Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slavery (LBS) have concluded that ‘Angerstein was… a beneficiary of slavery in the marine insurance business on which he founded his career and fortune, and a member of commercial networks for whom slavery was part of the fabric of the financial and mercantile worlds in which jointly he and they operated.’[2]

Angerstein was a trustee of the de Ponthieus estates in Grenada from 1767 until his death in 1823, acting as sole trustee from 1794. He was himself a creditor of the de Ponthieus, and stood to benefit financially to the extent of his share of the assets recovered under this arrangement (but in principle no further), and was legally responsible for the management of the de Ponthieus’ plantations, which included several hundred enslaved people.

Through our research we have explored the collective role Angerstein and others played in setting up New Lloyd’s Coffee House, as well as established his involvement in the slave economy. As a result, we have concluded his title, ‘The Father of Lloyd’s’ is no longer appropriate or relevant. At Lloyd’s, we want to operate a market in which everyone can fully participate and thrive. See our progress on building an inclusive culture.

Read our report

As Angerstein’s case is a complex and nuanced one we have compiled the evidence into a report. 

Please note some of the content in the report relating to slavery contains offensive language and may be distressing.


  • [1] Lecture by Sidney Boulton, Chairman of Lloyds, 1920-1921, quoted in ‘John Julius Angerstein’, Lloyd’s List, 9 May 1922
  • [2] Nicholas Draper, ‘Angerstein, Marine Insurance, the Slave Trade and Slavery’, 2021-2022 angersteinmarine.pdf ( [accessed 15/07/2022]