Lloyd's trading revolution
The first mention of Edward Lloyd’s coffee house was in the London Gazette in February 1688. Six months later William of Orange and a party of Dutch troops invaded England in the glorious or “bloodless” revolution. London benefited from increased access to Europe’s other trade superpower - the Netherlands.
This era was not about what a man inherited, or how many acres he farmed, it was about commerce. Humble men became rich trading goods – sugar, spice, coffee and tea – imported from new colonies.
The coffee houses were places for these entrepreneurs to find business, pick up news and - in Lloyd‘s at least - protect their investments. There were lots of coffee houses, so what made Edward Lloyd‘s so special that it would last another 325 years, becoming the most famous name in insurance?
Peter Bernstein in his book “Against the Gods” argues that Lloyd’s USP was information. The self-made men in the coffee houses swapped gossip and news and, in that simple act, made themselves powerful. The diarist Samuel Pepys said that the news in the coffeehouses was more accurate than at the Admiralty. In a time when information was carefully contained by the elite, this was revolutionary in itself and King Charles II tried (unsuccessfully) to supress the coffee houses.