This Article 
 Bibliographic References 
 Add to: 
Charles Babbage and the Assurance of Lives
Fall 1994 (vol. 16 no. 3)
pp. 5-14

In 1824 Charles Babbage was appointed actuary of the Protector Life Assurance Society of London, which led him to prepare a new set of life tables and undertake a study of the life insurance industry. He subsequently wrote his well-known book the Assurance of Lives (1826). This article describes the role of Charles Babbage in the development of life insurance and the reform of the life insurance industry, and the significance of the Assurance of Lives in his intellectual development.

1. C. Babbage,A Comparative View of the Various Institutions for the Assurance of Lives, J. Mawman, London, 1826.
2. Dubbey, J. M. 1978.The Mathematical Work of Charles Babbage, Cambridge University Press.
3. Campbell-Kelly, M. 1988. "Charles Babbage's table of logarithms (1827),"Annals of the History of Computing 10, pp. 159-169.
4. M. Berg,The Machinery Question and the Making of Political Economy 1815-1848, Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, UK, 1980.
5. Franksen, O. I. 1984.Mr. Babbage's Secret: the Tale of Cypher--and APL, Birkerod, Denmark: Strandberg.
6. C. Babbage,Works of Babbage, 11 vols., M. Campbell-Kelly, ed., Pickering and Chatto, London, 1989.
7. A. Hyman,Charles Babbage: Pioneer of the Computer, Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, UK, 1982, p. 32.
8. C. Babbage,Passages from the Life of a Philosopher, Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts and Green, London, 1864, pp. 474- 478.
9. W. Schooling,Alliance Assurance, 1824-1924, London, 1924, pp. 21-23.
10. A.W. Tarn and C.E. Byles,A Record of the Guardian Assurance Company Limited, 1821-1921, privately printed, London, 1921, pp. 47-56.
11. A. Wood,Thomas Young: Natural Philosopher, 1773-1829, Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, UK, 1954, pp. 297-302.
12. C. Hutton,A Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary, 2nd ed., London, 1815.
13. F. Baily,Doctrine...of Life Annuities and Assurances, John Richardson, London, 1810.
14. M.J. Cullen,The Statistical Movement in Early Victorian Britain, Harvester Press, London, 1975, p. 7.
15. M.E. Ogborn,Equitable Assurances: The Story of Life Assurance in the Experience of the Equitable Life Assurance Society 1762- 1962, Allen and Unwin, London, 1962, pp. 166-192.
16. D.V. Glass,Numbering the People, D.C. Heath, Farnborough, UK, 1973, pp. 121-123.
17. C. Babbage,Reflections on the Decline of Science in England, and on Some of its Causes, B. Fellowes, London, 1830.
18. W. Morgan,The Deed of Settlement for the Society for Equitable Assurances...with Six Addresses..., London, 1820 (quoted in Babbage,Assurance of Lives,1p. 160).
19. Letter from C. Babbage to J.W.F. Herschel, Sept. 14, 1824, Royal Society, Herschel MSS, Vol. HS2, Letter 198.
20. Babbage's evidence inReport from the Select Committee on Friendly Societies, Parliamentary Papers, Session 1826-27, Vol. 3.
21. B. Gompertz, "On the Nature of the Function Expressive of Human Mortality...,"Philosophical Trans., Vol. 115, 1825, pp. 513- 585.
22. J.M. Eyler,Victorian Social Medicine: The Ideas and Methods of William Farr, Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, Baltimore, 1979.
23. Babbage's letter to Baily is quoted in P. Gray, "Tables of Single and Annual Assurance Premiums...,"Assurance Magazine, Vol. 6, 1857, pp. 185-186.
24. C. Babbage,Rates of the Protector Life Assurance Society(1824),Works,6Vol. 4, pp. 14-19.
25. Letter from T. Colby to C. Babbage, Apr. 22, 1824, British Library, Add. MSS 37183, f. 120.
26. Letter from A.L. Prevost to C. Babbage, July 29, 1824, British Library, Add. MSS 37183, f. 133.
27. Letter from W. Whitmore to C. Babbage, Dec. 6, 1824, British Library, Add. MSS 37183.
28. F. Baily,An Account of the Several Life-Assurance Companies, John Richardson, London, 1810.
29. C. Babbage,Laws of Mechanical Notation, privately printed pamphlet, London, 1851. Also in Babbage,Works, M. Campbell-Kelly, ed., Vol. 3, pp. 224-228; and in C. Babbage,Science and Reform. Selected Works of Charles Babbage, A. Hyman, ed., Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, UK, 1989, pp. 312-317.
30. Anon, review of Babbage'sAssurance of Lives, Edinburgh Rev., Vol. 45, 1827, pp. 482-513.
31. [John Barrow], review of Babbage'sAssurance of Lives, Quarterly Rev., Vol. 35, 1827, pp. 1-31.
32. C. Babbage,On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, Charles Knight, London, 1832; 2nd ed. 1832; 3rd ed. 1833; 4th ed. 1835.
33. J.V. Pickstone, "Ways of Knowing: Towards a Historical Sociology of Science, Technology and Medicine,"British J. History of Science, Vol. 26, 1993, pp. 433-458.
34. C. Babbage, "An Essay on the General Mechanical Principles which Regulate the Application of Machinery to Manufacture and the Mechanical Arts,"Encyclopedia Metropolitana, Vol. 8, London, 1829, pp. 1-84.
35. J. Morrell and A. Thackray,Gentlemen of Science: Early Years of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford, UK, 1981, p. 47.
36. W. Morgan,A View of the Rise and Progress of the Equitable Society, London, 1828 (quoted in Ogborn,Equitable Assurances,15p. 191).
37. F. Baily, letter to the editor,The Times, June 26, 1828, p. 4a. See also subsequent correspondence from G. Farren and W. Morgan, July 1, 1828, pp. 3-4.
38. H.J. Brooke,Observations on a Mr Morgan, London, 1828.
39. T. Young, "On the Experience of the Equitable Society,"Philosophical Magazine, Vol. 4, 1828, pp. 339-343.
40. C. Babbage, "On the Proportionate Number of Births of the Two Sexes under Different Circumstances" (1829),Works,6Vol. 4., pp. 104-123; on pp. 105-106.
41. C. Trebilcock,Phoenix Assurance and the Development of British Insurance, Vol. 1: 1782-1870, Cambridge, UK, 1985.
42. B. Supple,Royal Exchange Assurance, Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, UK, 1970, p. 141.
43. W.M. Thackeray,The History of Samuel Titmarsh and the Great Hoggarty Diamond, London, 1841.
44. Report from the Select Committee on Joint-Stock Companies, Parliamentary Papers, Session 1844, Vol. 7.
45. Report from the Select Committee on Assurance Associations, Parliamentary Papers, Session 1852-53, Vol. 21.
46. C. Walford,Insurance Cyclopedia, Vol. 1, C. and E. Layton, London, 1871, p. 152.
47. Wilhelm Arnoldi (1778-1841),Deutsche Bibliographie, Vol. 1, pp. 589-591.
48. T. Sibbett, "The Duke of Saxe-Gotha: Glimpses of Early German Life Assurance,"Fiasco, No. 125, Apr. 1990, and No. 126, May 1990, pp. unnumbered.
49. R.G. Hopf, "Life Assurance Companies of Germany,"Assurance Magazine, Vol. 3, 1853, pp. 134-147.
50. H. von Karl Samwer,Hundert Jahre: Gothaer Lebensversicherungsbank auf Gegenseitigkeit, 1827-1927, Gotha, Germany, 1927.
51. Letters quoted inside the flyleaf of Babbage's copy of the German edition of theAssurance of Lives(Weimar, 1827), now in the library of the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, UK.
52. M. Keller,The Life Insurance Enterprise, 1885-1910, Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1963, p. 82.
53. C. Babbage, "On the Statistics of Lighthouses" (1853),Works,6Vol. 5, pp. 57-65.
54. C. Babbage, "Analysis of the Statistics of the Clearing House" (1856),Works,6Vol. 5, pp. 93-132.
55. M. Nissel,People Count: A History of the General Register Office, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1987, p. 24.
56. S.E. Finer,The Life and Times of Sir Edwin Chadwick, Methuen, London, 1952, p. 143.
57. W. Farr,English Life Table, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1864.
58. M. Lindgren,Glory and Failure: The Difference Engines of Johann Müller, Charles Babbage and Georg and Edvard Scheutz, MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1990.

Martin Campbell-Kelly, "Charles Babbage and the Assurance of Lives," IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 5-14, Fall 1994, doi:10.1109/MAHC.1994.298416
Usage of this product signifies your acceptance of the Terms of Use.