The Resource (microform)


Inclusive dates
Records, 1795-1866, of the Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia. The records have been divided into two series. Series I: Correspondence, 1795-1862; and Series II: Policies, declarations, etc., 1795-1866. The correspondence series includes letters from agents and subscribers throughout Virginia. Each letter is endorsed on back with the author's name and date received. The majority of the letters were sent to principal agents for Mutual Society including William F. Ast, 1795-1807; Samuel Greenhow 1808-1815; James Rawlings, 1815-1817; and John Rutherfoord, 1837-1866. Topics include premium submissions, hiring of new agents, inquiries about claims due, and lists of subscribers. The policies, declarations and revaluations series, 1795-1866, are arranged alphabetically by county
Member of
  • Accessioned
  • Received
  • Described
Biographical or historical data
  • The Mutual Assurance Society against Fire on Buildings, of the State of Virginia, was incorporated by the General Assembly on 22 December 1794. The plan of the society was suggested by William Frederick Ast, a Prussian then residing in Richmond, and is alleged to have been modeled after a system of mutual guarantee introduced by Frederick the Great.
  • As required by the act of incorporation, a subscription of three million dollars was necessary before the charter could be carried into effect. As a result, the organizational meeting of the society was not held until 24 December 1795. At that meeting, a constitution, rules, and regulations were adopted and officers selected. The general office of the society was to be in Richmond, Virginia. Management was to be by the president and directors, while the principal agent and cashier-general were charged with administrative duties. The following officers were selected: William Foushee, President; James Bradder, James Brown, Jacob J. Cohen, Andrew Dunscomb, William Duval, Robert Mitchell, George Pickett, and Bushrod Washington, Directors for Richmond and vicinity; Robert Bolling, Director for Petersburg; George French, Director for Fredericksburg; Alexander St. Clair, Director for Staunton; Jonah Thompson, Director for Alexandria; John Peyton, Director for Winchester; Thomas Newton, Director for Norfolk; Jacquelin Ambler, Cashier-General; and William F. Ast, Principal agent. The society eventually insured property in Virginia, West Virginia (until 1868), and the District of Columbia. Policies began to be written in March 1796. One of the first policies was written for John Marshall, the first chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; other early clients included Thomas Jefferson, "Light-Horse" Harry Lee, James Monroe, and Bushrod Washington.
  • Insurance offered by the society was against all losses and damages occasioned accidentally by fire. Rates of hazard were determined by the material composition of the buildings, by the users to which the buildings were put, and by what may be kept in them. Mills, playhouses, liveries, and buildings containing machinery propelled by steam or in which combustible articles were stored could be insured only by special contract. Revaluations of insured property were required every seven years or whenever additions were made to a policy.
  • Up to the Civil War, the society was financially secure and prosperous. Although war risks were not taken by the society and any damage caused by invasion was not covered by the assurance, the financial crisis caused by inflation, currency depreciation, and the loss of investments with the fall of the Confederacy left the society: without a dollar in money. However, the societys reserve fund, required by law, enabled it to recover rapidly from the effects of the war.
  • In May 1905 work was completed on a new nine story office building for the Mutual Assurance Society, located in downtown Richmond. The company survived World War I and World War II intact, even abating quotas for its members in 1945. During the tenure of G. Moffett King Sr. and Jr., the Society made several changes in the types of policies it wrote. Coverage was extended and homeowner’s insurance was offered, which eventually became the Society’s primary insurance product. The articles of incorporation were amended in 1982 to change the name from The Mutual Assurance Society Against Fire on Buildings of the State of Virginia, to its present name, Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia. In 1991 the offices in downtown Richmond were sold and the company relocated to the west end of Richmond. After 210 years the company continues to prosper in Virginia, remaining the oldest incorporated business in Virginia.
  • List of Principal Agents: William F. Ast 24 Dec. 1795- 20 Sept. 1807; Samuel Greenhow 7 Jan. 1808-17 Feb. 1815; James Rawlings 4 March 1815-12 April 1837; John Rutherford 19 April 1837-3 Aug. 1866; Herbert A. Claiborne 13 Aug. 1866-15 Feb. 1902; Edwin A. Palmer 24 Feb. 1902-12 Nov. 1928; W. Meade Addison 23 Nov. 1928-7 Jan. 1954; G. Moffett King 7 Jan. 1954-1 Feb. 1960; G. Moffett King, Jr. 1 Feb. 1960-12 Sept. 1966; S. Vernon Priddy, Jr. 6 Dec. 1966-1981; L. Gerald Roach 1981-.
Cataloging source
Form designation
Funding information
Filming funded by The Library of Virginia Foundation with the support of The Roller-Bottimore Foundation and The Robins Foundation.
Location of originals duplicates
The Huntington Library;
  • This collection forms part of the Robert Alonzo Brock Collection at The Huntington Library, San Marino, California
  • The Robert Alonzo Brock Collection was filmed by The Huntington Library in cooperation with The Library of Virginia with funding provided by The Library of Virginia Foundation with the support of The Roller-Bottimore Foundation and The Robins Foundation
  • Microfilmed as arranged by The Huntington Library
Base of film
safety base polyester
  • The Library of Virginia
black and white
Emulsion on film
silver halide
service copy
Immediate source of acquisition
The Library of Virginia Foundation, The Roller-Bottimore Foundation, and The Robins Foundation
Organization method
Organized into the following series: Series I. Correspondence, 1795-1862 (Misc. reels 4289-4292); and Series II. Policies, declarations, etc., 1795-1866 (Misc. reels 4293-4294).
Positive negative aspect
low reduction ratio
Reproduction note
Specific material designation
microfilm reel
Terms governing use
Should you wish to quote from or reproduce images of any of the materials, you must write to the Librarian of the Huntington Library, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108, requesting formal permission to do so. Please note that you do not have to obtain permission if you are quoting fewer than fifty words, or if you are only citing the document. Images made with microfilm-reader printers are for research use only and may not be used for publication without permission.
Type of unit

Library Locations

    • Library of VirginiaBorrow it
      800 East Broad Street, Richmond, VA, 23219, US
      37.5415632 -77.4360805
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