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career in the West Indian trade, but that had
since recovered under good management, and is
now one of the largest and most firmly established
shipping concerns in the world.

The old traditions of the Union-Castle Line
were to suffer no eclipse under the fresh manage-
ment, and one of the first acts of the new
Chairman, Sir Owen Philipps, M.P., was to
proceed to the Cape, where a new mail contract
was successfully negotiated. Another public-
spirited movement, designed to foster the growth
of South African agricultural interests, was the
granting of the privilege to farmers of sending
pedigree stock free of freight in Union-Castle
steamers. This concession was much appreciated,
and over £250,000 worth of pedigree stock of
various kinds has been conveyed by the company
under these conditions.

Nor was the company's record in the Great
War a whit less brilliant or courageous than those
of the lines that we have already dealt with.

The South African Trade 193

Practically the whole fleet was engaged in war
work of all imaginable kinds and in every sea.
Four of its vessels, the Armadale Castle^ the
Edinburgh Castle, the Kinfauns Castle and the
Kildonan Castle, were employed as auxiliary
armed cruisers. Many others wxre used as
hospital ships, and of these the Llandovery Castle,
the Glenart Castle, the Dover Castle and the
Galeka were lost.

No less than 350,000 wounded and invalided
oiBBcers and men were landed at Southampton
alone from Union-Castle vessels, while many
hundreds of thousands of troops were carried by
them to and from all parts of the world. In the
Gallipoli landing they played a vital part, and
representatives of the line were to be found as
far afield as Egypt, South Africa, Russia and
India, while many of the American troops crossed
the Atlantic in Union-Castle liners.

Immediately after the close of the War order?
were placed for new tonnage, and by the time
the century reached its majority the Arundel
Castle, of 15,000 tons, was running on the Cape
route and two other vessels of 15,000 tons were
nearly complete.



The Distinction between Lloyd's Register and Lloyd's Under-
writing Association — Two Great Institutions with a
Common Origin — Edward Lloyd's Coflee-house — Early
Days of the Register — Al at Lloyd's — Its Influence
on the World's Shipping — Lloyd's Underwriting Asso-
ciation and the Napoleonic Wars — Removal to the
Royal Exchange.

\\/E have now rapidly surveyed the growth of
' English oversea commerce through the various
stages of its evolution. We have seen the inde-
pendent individual shipowner-captain sailing on
his lone-hand ventures. We have seen groups
of these men knit into contemporary companies
for self-protection and mutual insurance. We have
seen the big merchant houses with their own fleets
solely employed upon their own business. Finally,
we have seen shipping itself, especially since the
employment of steam power, developing into a
great independent industry of its own. Needless
to say, there have been many intermediate stages
and all these phases of oversea commercial enter-
prise have existed contemporaneously.

But these, broadly speaking, have been the
chief stages that a study of the subject has re-
vealed; and, before concluding, it would appear
only appropriate that we should deal with those


Edward Lloyd and His Record 195

two great institutions, so vitally connected with
our merchant shipping, that were to emerge
from the enterprise and mental acumen of
an obscure coffee-house keeper, Edward Lloyd.
One of these institutions is that now known as
Lloyd's Register, with its headquarters in Fen-
church Street, an institution that registers and
classifies most of the world's shipping. The other
is that great association of underwriters, familiarly
known as Lloyd's, with its headquarters in the
Royal Exchange. These are now distinct and
independent bodies, but their origin was a
common one ; they came into being in a little
house of refreshment where the shipping com-
munity was wont to congregate in the middle
of the seventeenth century.

As we hear of it originally, this small coffee-
house was situated in Tower Street, and it is first
mentioned in the London Gazette of 1668 ; and
here merchants, shipping people and financiers
would meet informally to insure their overseas
freights against accident and failure. Here too, on
the initiative of its proprietor Edward LloyB, who
.was quick to perceive its convenience to his patrons,
a list of ship sailings, with other shipping news, was
regularly posted. Out of these two customs, at
first so unofficially and perhaps almost lightly
regarded, these two great and separate but allied
activities grew — to be ultimately known as Lloyd's
Association of Underwriters and Lloyd's Register.

Let us deal first with the Register. It was in

196 The Sea Traders

the year 1692 that Edward Lloyd removed his
coffee-house to the corner of Abchurch Lane and
Lombard Street, where, it is interesting to note,
a similar hst of sailings had been posted as far back
as the reign of Henry VIII. In 1696 Edward
Lloyd started a newspaper dealing with maritime
affairs, but owdng to some rather frank criticism of
the House of Lords, it was suppressed a little later
and not revived in another form until the year
1726. Clearly as the idea of the register, however,
is to be perceived in the posting of these sailing
lists and the publication of this newspaper, the
earliest known copy of a definite registry of ship-
ping is dated 1764. This contained information as
to the age and ownership of vessels, the names of
their masters, their tonnages, their equipment
of guns, and the number of their crews ; while
their individual condition was indicated in terms of
descending soundness according to the five vowels
A, E, I, O, U, their equipment being described
in the initials G, M, B, standing for good, medium
and bad. Later on these latter initials were
replaced by numerals, and Al at Lloyd's became
the designation of a first-class life so far as a ship
was concerned.

At first this registry was compiled by under-
writers and was known as the Green Book, or
Underwriters' Registry, and its perusal was con-
fined, with the greatest stringency, and under
severe penalties, to the members of the Society of
Underwriters responsible for its publication. At

Edward Lloyd and His Record 197

this time apparently shipowners were content that
their vessels should be thus classified by the under-
writers without having any say in the matter
themselves. But such a system was bound to give
rise in time to differences of opinion and con-
siderable resentment ; and this was in fact what
happened. The shipowners accordingly started a
registry of their own, which became known as the
Ship Owners' Registry, or Red Book, and these
two registries existed side by side to the great
inconvenience of the mercantile marine world.

At last the discontent grew to such an extent
that, in the year 1823, a committee of inquiry was
appointed, consisting of eight merchants, eight
underwriters and eight shipowners of London, with
nine representatives of the outports. But although
they appear to have conducted their investigation
with very great care, the financial difficulties were
such that their proposals proved abortive. Ten
years later, however, Lloyd's decided that the con-
ditions were so unsatisfactory that, at all costs,
some solution must be found; and accordingly,
without appealing to the Government for financial
aid, the amalgamation of the rival registries was
accomplished, and Lloyd's Register of Shipping,
as we now know it, was finally established. Under
the new arrangement the committee consisted of
eight merchants, eight underwriters, and eight
shipowners, with the chairman of Lloyd's and the
chairman of the General Ship Owners' Society
as ex-officio members, the right of election to the

198 The Sea Traders

committee being given to the committee of the
General Ship Owners' Society and the committee
of Lloyd's. The principle of classification adopted
was to describe as nearly as possible the real and
intrinsic quality of the ship dealt with after a due
inspection of the reports made by their surveyors,
and the documents submitted to the committee.

Originally drawn exclusively from London, in
process of time other British ports had direct
representatives on this committee, so that at last
it became thoroughly typical of the whole shipping
community. Later on there was added a technical
committee, consisting of representatives of the
shipbuilding, engineering, and steel-making indus-
tries, and the general influence of this body upon
shipbuilding at large has been of the utmost
importance. In the year of its commencement,
of course, it was only necessary to establish the
principles of classification in respect of wooden
vessels. Later on and periodically, as the science
of shipbuilding progressed, the rules had neces-
sarily to be amplified or expanded to meet new

The present method of arriving at the value of
a vessel and of securing its correct description in
the Register is briefly as follows : In the first place
the plans of all vessels, including the machinery
and boilers of steamers, whose classification is
desired by their owners, are submitted for approval
to the committee of Lloyd's Register. Thus if
a vessel is destined for general trade purposes it

Edward Lloyd and His Record 199

is necessary that she should conform to the required
standard of strength laid down by the committee
for vessels of this class. On the other hand, if a
vessel is to be built for some special trade or
purpose she can receive a special classification on
that understanding. The plans having been thus
submitted, the actual construction of the vessels,
including the machinery, is carried out from start
to finish under the eyes of the Register's repre-
sentatives, the steel used having been produced
and tested at works approved by the society.
Specially trained and experienced inspectors are
employed by the society to examine forgings
destined for use in the structure of these vessels,
and these forgings are carefully supervised through-
out the process of their manufacture. Anchors
and chain cables are tested at Lloyd's proving
houses, which are licensed under the Anchors and
Chain Cables Act, 1899. Detailed reports of
surveys are sent to the headquarters of the society
by the surveyors, where they are considered by
the classification sub-committees before being
submitted to the general committee for final

Some idea of the work that this necessitates
can be gathered from the fact that in one recent
year over 1,300 vessels, amounting to more than
4,250,000 gross tons, were classified by Lloyd's
Register, and that during that year nearly 9,000
anchors were tested at Lloyd's proving houses,
together with over 550,000 fathoms of cable.


The Sea Traders

Furthermore, the hulls of vessels and the
engines and boilers of steamers are required to
undergo a periodical inspection at intervals not
exceeding four years. When they are six years
old boilers are surveyed each year, and shafts are
drawn in for examination every second year. All
repairs effected, following damage at sea from any
cause, are carried out under the inspection of the
society's surveyors, and detailed reports of all
these surveys are carefully examined by the head-
quarters staff and passed by the classification sub-
committees, which sit twice a week.

So much for the Register, that in the year
1834 became finally separated from the Under-
writing Association. In the opening months of
1921, when just over seven million tons of ship-
ping was under construction in the shipyards of
the world, it was responsible for 4,738,953 tons,
these figures supplying an index to the position it
occupies not only in this country but in other
countries also.

Now let us turn to the progress of the insti-
tution that had established itself at the Royal
Exchange in 1774. By then its members were
already so successful as to have created a good
deal of envy, and parliamentary criticism had
been brought to bear upon their virtual monopoly
of marine insurance.

A Select Parliamentary Committee was
accordingly at last appointed in 1810 to consider
and report upon the entire question ; and, on the

Edward Lloyd and His Record 201

whole, Lloyd's may be said to have passed
successfully through the ordeal. It was, however,
recommended to the House of Commons that the
monopoly of Lloyd's for marine insurance should
be abolished ; but the House of Commons, recog-
nizing that throughout the long years of war
with France Lloyd's had frequently supplied the
Government with maritime information that the
Government itself had been unable to obtain, and
recognizing also that its system of commercial
intelligence had been of the most profound import-
ance to the whole mercantile world, decided that,
at present, no alteration should be made, and
Lloyd's continued, therefore, in its same position
for another ten years.

The question was then again raised, and it was
decided that marine insurance should be thrown
open to the commercial public at large. Thus
there are in London alone to-day something like
a score of marine insurance companies, although
Lloyd's still holds its position as facile princeps
in the sphere that it had opened up.

The next chief epoch in the career of Lloyd's,
the underwriting association, was its incorporation
by Act of Parliament in the year 1871. The three
main objects of the institution were then definitely
laid down as the carrying on by its members of
the business of marine insurance, the protection
of the interests of its members in respect of ship-
ping cargo and freights, and the collection, publi-
cation and diffusion of information in respect of

202 The Sea Traders

shipping generally. It has always been the object
of the committee, the corporation's executive
body, to exercise the greatest care and dis-
crimination as to the admission of underwriting
members, and to ensure as far as it could that
these shall be men of the highest honour and
integrity. Every new member is thoroughly
scrutinized and has to deposit on election at least
£5,000 as caution money for paying his possible
liabilities. The aggregate of these deposits is
upwards of £4,000,000, held in the hands of
trustees ; and, in addition to this, every under-
writing member of Lloyd's is responsible for his
liabilities to the full extent of his own private
property and personal belongings.

How important this is and how successfully its
great tradition of financial and commercial probity
has been fostered can be gathered from the now
world-wide repute of Lloyd's and the confidence
imposed in its agents in all lands. Thus, while
not very long ago any person insuring a ship,
cargo or freight was obliged, should it become
necessary, to make his claim in London, there are
now agents, owing to arrangements made by the
committee of Lloyd's, in almost every foreign and
colonial port by whom such claims can be settled,
to the very great convenience of the widely
scattered mercantile marine community.

Finally, let us glance for a moment at the
system of intelligence so laboriously perfected
by Lloyd's since the early days of the little

Edward Lloyd and His Record ^203

Welshman's coffee-house. Thus the movements
of every ocean-going vessel are now to be found
recorded there. From all parts of the world, at
all hours of the day and night, telegrams arrive at
Lloyd's announcing such movements. In the year
1875 some 12,000 telegrams were thus received at
and sent by Lloyd's. Forty years later this
number had increased to nearly 100,000. To
secure the efficiency of this great system of
intelligence special signal stations have been
established and are maintained by Lloyd's in both
hemispheres, some fifty thousand vessels being
reported from these stations annually in the United
Kingdom alone. Every morning Lloyd^s List
still makes its appearance, with the fullest ship-
ping and commercial intelligence.

Such, then, very briefly described, are the
activities, so beneficent to the whole world of
marine endeavour, of these two great twin
institutions, and well might Edward Lloyd, the
coffee-house keeper of Abchurch Lane, be a
proud man to-day could he but see his name
perpetuated in two bodies so integral in the life
of modern shipping.



The Mistakes of the Historian — Importance of the Individual
in Industry, Commerce, and Sea-transport — Geniuses
from Humble Homes — Influence on National Policy —
Growth of British Merchant Shipping — The Function
of the " Tramp " — How the People of the British
Isles Live.

/^F all the islands of the world, only one group
^^ has exercised any considerable and lasting
influence on modern history. This group was once
part of the continent of Europe, but in the course
of the ages first the English Channel and then the
North Sea were formed, and tEus the British Isles
came into existence. They have an area of only
121,683 square miles, being considerably less than
one-thirtieth the size of Brazil, China or the United
States, about one-tenth the size of Argentina, and
not much more than half the size of France.
Of this group of islands, the largest is what is now
known as Great Britain, consisting of three dis-
tinct ethnological divisions — England, Scotland
and Wales, with Ireland as an annexe — and of
these the first has always bulked most largely on
the consciousness of the outside world. In the
process of time (in 1707) England and Scotland
were imited under one sovereignty, and in the
following century the Parliaments of Britain and


The Great Expansion 205

Ireland were amalgamated. Although Scotsmen
have since exercised a commanding influence over
the policy of the United Kingdom, England has
remained the predominant partner, not only in
British affairs, but in the affairs of the widely
scattered lands oversea which now pay allegiance
to the one sovereign.

The little island which was harried by the
Vikings, and for centuries was held in servitude
by the Romans, the Normans and others, has now
become the pivot of a world-wide Empire with a
population of four hundred and forty million souls.
It is a unique commonwealth, which is bound
together by bonds of common interests and
common ideals rather than by force, as was the
case with the great empires of the past. To this
great expansion the historian offers no adequate
explanation — first, because he has never appre-
ciated the influence which the sea has had upon
British development ; secondly, because he has
failed to realize the part which the individual has
taken in shaping the national destinies ; and,
thirdly, owing to his blindness to the inter-
action of shipping, insurance, commerce, finance
and politics. He has been over-impressed by the
influence of kings and their councillors, and
he has been also over-impressed by the
importance of military operations. He has
ignored the various springs of individual enter-
prise which, flowing on from generation to
generation, have at last swollen into a .wide,

2o6 The Sea Traders

sweeping stream of effort dominated by fealty to
liberal principles.

In these days, when we are confronted .with
great commercial corporations and labour com-
binations, there is a danger that the importance
of the individual may be overlaid. There is the
temptation, on the one hand, to look to the Govern-
ment for the solution of every problem of trans-
port, industry, commerce and finance, forgetting
that the Government consists, as a rule, of
individuals who have risen to power with little or
no knowledge of either of these spheres of national
activity. There is also, on the other hand, the
growing tendency on the part of predominant
influences in the labour world to restrain individual
effort, forgetting that this country owes practically
everything to the individual and little or nothing
to the great mass of ordinary men. The pioneers
who laid the foundations, not only of this
country's prosperity, but of the prosperity of the
whole Empire, have been men of varied genius.
No small proportion of them came out of humble
homes, where they learnt the simple domestic
virtues — honesty, devotion to duty, and thrift —
which are characteristic of our race. They were
men who owed practically nothing to the State in
raising themselves to eminence; in their upward
movement they benefited not only themselves, but
their fellows by offering them increased scope of
usefulness, and they conferred upon their country
lasting benefits.

The Great Expansion 207

It is to these men of native genius that the
population of Britain owes its position as the sea-
carriers of the world and as a great community
of manufacturers. It is owing to their far-sighted
work that this country, which in Queen Elizabeth's
reign supported only about five million people, is
now able to maintain, at a far higher level of
comfort, a population of forty-seven million. It
is also owing to their influence that the liberal
principles which have found expression in our
political, commercial and industrial life have spread
far and wide over the world. Long before Par-
liament or the Press exercised anything approach-
ing the influence which they now possess, these
men represented the heart of England, and,
though years of delay often occurred, it was their
voices which at last found expression in national
policy. They were in the main responsible for
finding employment for the rapidly increasing
population, as they were also chiefly responsible
for creating those great ocean services which
enabled our traders to compete on advantageous
terms in the great markets of the world, since
sea-carriage is always less costly than land-

To how great an extent the work of these
pioneer sea traders has borne fruit may be gathered
from a brief glance at the British mercantile
marine at the outbreak of the late war. Not only
was it the largest, the most up-to-date, and the
most efficient in existence, but it actually com-

2o8 The Sea Traders

prised nearly one-half of the total steam tonnage
of the world. More than four times as large as
that of its then nearest rival, the German merchant
navy, the bulk of its tonnage consisted of ocean-
going vessels. It was fortunate, both for ourselves
and our Alhes and for every liberty-loving nation,
that it was so, for without these immense resources
the ultimate victory of the Allies in the Great
War would have been impossible, and it was the
comparatively small, comparatively slow, and quite
inconspicuous vessels — "the tramps" — that made
the chief contribution to this triumph.

As a witty contemporary has said with a good
deal of truth in reference to the recent warlike
operations on land, when one looked for a great
individual hero, one found only a mob. It was
the obscure private that, in the long run, won the
war on land ; and at sea it was much the same.
It was not the luxurious passenger liner, steaming
at high speed, it w^as not even the big cargo liner;
it was, above all, the tramp, buffeting her patient
way over the world's seas, that was the chief
maritime instrument of victory, apart from the
Grand Fleet. The tramp was the lineal successor
of those earlier individual vessels owned by single
enterprising sea traders who laid the foundations
of our prosperity, and it was appropriate that
these unconsidered vessels should in our experi-
ence have vindicated so gloriously their ancient

In the sea life of our Empire the work of these

The Great Expansion 209

tramp vessels is apt to be overlooked; but, while
some forty per cent, of our pre-war steam tonnage
consisted of what may be termed liners, our
tramps exceeded this figure by a third. Upon
these we were dependent for the transport of the
rougher kinds of cargo for which the larger and
speedier liners were quite unsuitable. Ready to
sail at short notice with any sort of goods to any
sort of port, this Empire, as well as a very large
proportion of the sea-trading world, was, and is
still, vitally indebted to them for economic life.
With a speed of eight or nine knots, they acted
as carriers between far-distant ports, covering
routes where scheduled sailings were rare or

Many of these tramps, of course, for months,

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Online LibraryArchibald HurdThe sea traders → online text (page 12 of 14)