William Godwin's Diary


On 20 November 1812, Godwin records, simply, 'Fire'. On 21 November he enters, 'Call on Sun Fire Office', and on '23 November', 'Peto & Surveyor from Fire Office, & E Topping call'. The Sun Fire Office was an insurance company founded in 1716 and its policy registers are available online through the National Archives. Their only reference to Godwin comes three weeks later:

MS 11936/455/877315

14 December 1812

These documents are held at Guildhall Library

Contents: Insured: William Godwin, Skinner Street, Snow Hill, bookseller

It is possible that, following a fire at the Juvenile Library Godwin applied for a revised policy which required a fresh survey of the building. However, it is worth noting that there is no record of a pre-existing policy, leaving open the possibility that Godwin was uninsured at the time of the fire. Perhaps, after a small fire, he was moved to take out insurance in case of another one, fire being a paritcular risk to a bookseller whose livelihood depended on the stock of books held on the premises.

See www.nationalarchives.gov.uk.