The founder of Lloyd’s Coffee House, Edward Lloyd – who died 300 years ago this year – is perhaps not so much famous in his own right as for the fact his name lives on in the Lloyd’s insurance business today.

Lloyd's_Coffee_House_plaqueLloyd is believed to have been born around 1648 but little is known of his early day (it’s thought he may have come from Canterbury). By 1688, he was the proprietor of a licensed coffee house in the now long gone Tower Street and was living nearby with his wife Abigail (the first reference to the coffee house dates from 1688).

In 1691, the coffee house moved to a premises at 16 Lombard Street – not far from the Royal Exchange – and it’s here that the coffee house gained a reputation as the centre of the ship-broking and marine insurance business (a blue plaque marks the site today).

Lloyd, meanwhile, was building up a network of correspondents at major ports around the world, and according to Sarah Palmer, writing in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, was also involved in the publication of a weekly news sheet featuring shipping-related news – initially published on a Saturday, it became a Friday publication in 1699 and continued until at least 1704 – and the rather shorter-lived single sheet newspaper Lloyd’s News, founded in 1696. (Lloyd’s List wasn’t founded until well after Lloyd’s death in 1734).

Lloyd and his first wife had at least nine children, with four daughters surviving into adulthood – it was the youngest, Handy, who with her first husband William Newton (he was head waiter at the coffee house and married her just prior to her father’s death) and, following his death, her second husband Samuel Sheppard, continued the family business after her father’s death in 1713.

Following Abigail’s death in 1698, he married Elizabeth Mashbourne and after her death in 1712, married again – this time to Martha Denham.

Lloyd died the following year on – 15th February 1713 – and was buried at St Mary Woolnoth – a church at which he’d held positions when alive.

The business which grew to become the Lloyd’s of London insurance business we know today, meanwhile, took its next step forward in 1769 when a group of professional underwriters established New Lloyd’s Coffee House in nearby Pope’s Head Alley. The group, formalised into a committee, later moved to the Royal Exchange and dropped the word new. Lloyd’s was incorporated in 1871 by an Act of Parliament and has gone on to become one of the world’s most famous insurers. It now operates in more than 300 countries and territories worldwide.

What was to become Lloyd’s Register, meanwhile, was founded in 1760 as the Society for the Registry of Shipping.

London’s iconic Lloyd’s Building (also known as the ‘inside out’ building thanks to a design in which utility pipes, lifts and stairways are exposed on the outside) has been listed as a Grade I building, becoming the youngest building to be granted such status. John Penrose, Minister for Tourism and Heritage, made the decision following advice from English Heritage. Roger Bowdler, English Heritage’s designation director, said he was “delighted” at the decision. “Its listing at the highest grade is fitting recognition of the sheer splendour of Richard Rogers’s heroic design. Its dramatic scale and visual dazzle, housing a hyper-efficient commercial complex, is universally recognised as one of the key buildings of the modern epoch.” The futuristic-looking building is one of very few post war buildings to be protected with a Grade I listing. Construction of the tower started in 1981 and was largely completed by May 1984. It was occupied two years later. As well as its futuristic exterior, the building also features a nod to the past with the Adam Room, which dates from the 1760s and was moved here intact from which was moved from Bowood House in Wiltshire. The building is also home to the Lutine Bell, which comes from a French frigate captured by the British in 1793, and was rung to herald important announcements (today these are generally only ceremonial). The history of Lloyd’s goes back to 1688 when it’s believed the first Lloyd’s Coffee House opened in Tower Street.

• More than 700,000 objects in the care of the National Trust can be accessed virtually via a new online database. The database, accessed via www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk contains details of more than 700,000 objects – everything from artworks by Gainsborough to a laudanum bottle containing remnants of poison and the cotton underwear of a grocer – currently housed at more than 200 properties as well as in storage or on loan to other organisations. Highlights include a costume made from beetle wings for the actress Ellen Terry, an early anti-aging ‘machine’, a furnished Victorian dolls house from Uppark House in West Sussex, and a Bible reputed to have been used at the execution of King Charles I from Chastleton House in Gloucestershire. The database has been in development for 15 years and the work to develop it will continue.

A 1,100-year-old collection of Viking Age objects including silver arm-rings and brooch fragments and coins from the Silverdale Hoard – found in Silverdale, Lancashire, in September – has gone on display in room 2 of the British Museum until early in the New Year. Among the 200 objects in the hoard is a type of coin not seen before and bears the inscription Airdeconut which appears to be an early attempt to represent the name Harthacnut. Lancaster City Museum has reportedly expressed an interest in acquiring the hoard. For more, see www.britishmuseum.org.