Discover your ancestor in Irish and English tontine records from 1766 to 1789.
This collection comprises annuity statements, accounts of deaths, death certificates, and marriage certificates relating to the subscribers and nominees of the English tontine of 1789; the Irish tontines of 1773, 1775, and 1777; and the life annuities of 1766 to 1779.
Although known as English or Irish tontines, it is important to note that subscribers and nominees could come from all over the British Isles as well as mainland Europe.
Annuity transcripts will include all or some of the following information:
Marriage transcripts will include all or some of the following information:
Death and burial transcripts will include all or some of the following information:
Be sure to check the images relating to the transcripts to discover additional information about your ancestor. Additional information may include annuity amounts, nominee or subscriber status, and class. Participants were divided into different classes by age. Those over the age of forty were placed into the first class, those aged between twenty and forty were placed into the second class, and the third class consisted of those below the age of twenty.
These records are taken from the following National Debt Office series at The National Archives, Kew:
Popular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a tontine is an investment plan designed for the raising of capital. Named after the Neapolitan banker Lorenzo de Tonti, who allegedly invented the tontine in France in 1653, subscribers pay an agreed sum into the fund and thereafter receive an annuity from it. Upon a member’s death, their shares devolve to the other participants, whose annuities rise in value. Once the last member dies the scheme is wound up.
Subscribers would select a nominee upon whose life their share would be dependent. They could select themselves as a nominee, or pick another person. Commonly, famous figures such as a king or queen were selected as their deaths were easy to prove. His Royal Highness George Prince of Wales, later George IV, features as a nominee in the English tontine of 1789. As the tontine scheme was dependent on the life span of its participants, it was imperative for the organisers to accurately record and prove deaths, hence why death certificates are included in this collection. Marriages were recorded in order to trace female nominees once their names had been changed.
As time passed, investors began to buy tontine shares for young children, as they had a higher life expectancy. In the Irish tontine of 1777, Genevan investors picked out young and healthy girls between the ages of seven and fourteen to be their nominees, known as ‘the thirty demoiselles.’ This meant their investments would have greater longevity, although this contributed to the eventual collapse in popularity of tontine investments.
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