Oxford Inscriptions: Fire Insurance Marks
Manor House, Headington (at John Radcliffe Hospital)
2 St Andrew's Lane, Headington
2 & 4 Windsor Street, Headington
6 & 8 Windsor Street, Headington
20 Beaumont Buildings
79 Temple Road, Cowley
* This is the firemark used by the Salop Fire Office, but their records show that Policy No. 5266 was issued on 25 March 1807 to George Crockett Nichols, a gentleman of Windmill House, Madeley, Shropshire, for use on that house. As the number on each marker is unique, it appears that this Headington firemark may be a copy, as there are also markers with the number 5266 in Thame and Hungerford, and another one again was put up for auction in Plymouth in 2014.
Fire marks were placed high on properties (to deter thieves), showing the design of the relevant insurance company and sometimes the individual policy number.
Search here for details of 162,973 fire insurance policies issued by the Sun and Royal Exchange Insurance Companies between 1777 and 1786 (under “Search in Document Type”, choose “Additional Datasets > Fire Insurance Registers, 1777-86”)
Twenty insurance companies (seventeen offering fire cover) had agents in Oxford in 1830. Pigot's Directory for that year lists the following
FIRE &c. OFFICES & AGENTS:
ALBION (life): Joseph Andrews, Ship Lane
ALLIANCE: Crews Dudley, Broad Street
BERKS, GLOUCESTER & PROVINCIAL (fire): Richard Smith, High Street
BIRMINGHAM (fire): William Cooke, High Street
CLERICAL & MEDICAL (life): John Freeman Wood, St Mary Hall Lane
COUNTY (fire): John Coleman, St Mary Magdalen's
CROWN: Michael Underhill, High Street
GLOBE: Charles Talmage, St Aldate's
GUARDIAN: William H. Butler, St Aldate's
HERTS and CAMBRIDGESHIRE (fire): Samuel Ste[a]ne, Cornmarket
MANCHESTER (fire): Charles Mallam, St Aldate's
PALLADIUM: Charles Watts, High Street
PELICAN: George Cecil, Beaumont Street
PHOENIX (fire): Thomas Sheard, High Street
PROTECTOR: Michael Underhill, High Street
PROVIDENT (life): John Coleman, St Mary Magdalen's
ROYAL EXCHANGE: Thomas Wyatt, Holywell Street
SUN: Richard Cox, High Street
UNIVERSITY (fire): Rev. John William Hughes, Holywell
WEST OF ENGLAND (fire): George Rackstrow, St Mary Magdalen's.
Back in 1823, Pigot's Directory listed thirteen insurance offices which had agents in Oxford, and these included three which were unrepresesented in 1830: the COMMERCIAL, the HOPE, and the NORWICH.