The history of Scottish Widows
Scottish Widows was established in 1814, a time when there was no welfare state and the death of a family breadwinner could result in destitution.
On 25th March 1812, some eminent Scotsmen gathered at the Royal Exchange Coffee Rooms, on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. They included members of the aristocracy, and well known figures such as the scientist and mathematician, John Playfair; the industrialist and social reformer, Robert Owen; and the bookseller and publisher, Archibald Constable.
They met to discuss a proposal, put forward the previous year, to establish a life assurance company in Scotland. At that time, with no welfare state, the death of a breadwinner could spell disaster for a family. Women were particularly vulnerable. They tended to be financially dependent on their husbands or other male relatives; in cases of serious misfortune, they could be left destitute.
The men agreed to establish a 'General Fund for securing provision to widows, sisters and other females; to be called the Scottish Widows' Fund'.
A president and a court of directors were appointed. They were charged with drawing up regulations and tables of premiums. This proved a lengthy process: the 'Scottish Widows' Fund and Life Assurance Society' was finally opened on 29th July 1814.