William Warren (1819-1889)

William Warren was born in Uffington, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire), England, 22 March 1819. Bound as an apprentice on 2 July 1833, he emigrated to America at an early age, and became an insurance underwriter in Cleveland and Chicago. On 3 August 1847 he married Mary Ann Seymour (born 18 April 1825), daughter of Alexander Seymour (1784-1850) and Hester Lansing (1793-1839) of Cleveland. He died 10 November 1889 and was buried in Lake Forest Cemetery. Mary Ann died in December 1901. They had the following children:

  1. William Seymour Warren (1848-1926).
  2. Mary Warren (20 August 1851-15 November 1918), attended Lake Forest College; on 4 November 1889 married Rev. William T. Elsing (1851-1927), pastor of DeWitt Memorial Church, New York City.
  3. John P. S. Warren (1854-20 January 1934), farmer, Butternut, Wisconsin.
  4. Helen Warren (born ca. 1856-4 November 1889), married J.C. King of Pittsburgh.
  5. Lansing Warren (29 December 1857-13 October 1901), graduated Princeton 1880, newspaper publisher in Denver, Chicago and Milwaukee, died in Milwaukee of typhoid fever. He married Emma Newhall Blodgett on 23 March 1886; their son Lansing Warren, Jr. (1894-1987) was a poet and New York Times correspondent; they also had a daughter Mary S. Warren (1899-1990), married Lee Borden Milbank (1897-1968).
  6. Seymour Warren (12 February 1861-19 August 1913), businessman, Denver, Colorado. He married Caroline Power (1865-1936); they had sons Seymour Power Warren (1889-1974) and William Seymour Warren II (16 December 1890-11 August 1891). Seymour Warren was buried in Riverside Cemetery, Denver.
  7. Aubrey Warren (20 February 1869-17 September 1927), married Julia Cornelia Ensign (1871-1928) on 14 June 1894 in Oak Park, Illinois. Died in Lake Forest, Illinois; had daughter Elizabeth (1896-1947).

A Pioneer Underwriter.

William Warren.

For more than twenty-five years William Warren was one of the leading representatives of an interest which has grown to vast proportions in the United States, and for more than twenty years of that time, he was identified most prominently with this interest in Chicago and the Northwest. The faithful and efficient servant of one of the great insurance corporations of the world, he was at the same time a watchful guardian of the public interest, and one of those intelligent, conscientious and capable men, who have contributed so much toward systematizing the business of Fire Underwriters, and elevating it to its present high plane in this country within the past quarter of a century.

The era through which he passed was what might properly be termed the formative period of western Fire Insurance history. It was the period within which were formulated many of the most important policies governing the conduct of fire underwriting, and within which many of the most judicious regulations of the fire insurance business were devised and put into effect. In bringing about necessary reforms, and inaugurating improved methods in the business in which he was engaged, William Warren was one of the most potent factors among his contemporaries, and he was therefore widely known as a man of affairs, of business sagacity and executive ability.

Of English nativity, Mr. Warren was born in Uffington, County Berks, March 22, 1819, receiving in his early boyhood such education as was thought necessary to fit him for a successful tradesman. At thirteen years of age his school days were over, and he entered the employ of his uncle, James Warren, of London, who was engaged in the India tea trade. There he received a thorough and systematic business training, and after five years' experience in trade he emigrated to the United States. Arrived in New York city, he began his business career in this country as a clerk in the wholesale dry goods house of John P. Stagg & Co. In the winter of 1843-44 he removed to Cleveland, Ohio, where he established himself in the dry-goods trade. This business he conducted successfully, becoming recognized as a merchant of character and abilty, and the strictest integrity.

In Cleveland he formed the acquaintance of Miss Mary Anne Seymour, daughter of Alexander Seymour of Utica, N. Y., who became a resident of Cleveland in 1835, and who came of New England ancestry, and in 1847 they were married.

While engaged in merchandising, he received from the Liverpool & London & Globe Insurance Company an appointment as its local agent, and began giving a share of his attention to this business in 1853. In 1860 he disposed of his mercantile interests and became associate general western agent of the Liverpool & London & Globe company, with headquarters in Cincinnati. Removing to that city he devoted the next six years to building up the business of this company in the extensive territories of which he had charge, his family residing meantime in the beautiful suburb of Walnut Hills, in a house which had become famous as the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, when her husband was a professor in the Lane Theological Seminary. In 1866 Mr. Warren was transferred from Cincinnati to Chicago, where shortly afterward he assumed sole charge of the affairs of the company, for fourteen of the northwestern states and territories. In supervising the numerous agencies under his control, establishing new agencies and extending the insurance business in his western field, he led an exceedingly active life during the years immediately following his change of location, and few of the representatives of the great corporation with which he was connected have had greater influence in shaping its affairs, or have contributed more toward advancing its interests in the United States. In 1875 he received a further recognition of his valuable services by being appointed resident secretary of the independent branch of the Liverpool & London & Globe Insurance Company, then established for all the northwestern states and territories lying east of the Rocky Mountains, and this important position he retained up to the date of his death in 1889, his connection with the company covering in all a period of thirty years.

His death occurred on the 10th of November, 1889, and on the 12th of November the largest memorial meeting of the Chicago Fire Underwriters Association ever held, was convened for the purpose of paying tribute to his memory. Accustomed to deal with the practical affairs of life in the most practical way, the representatives of this interest are not, as a rule, much given to sentimentality, but upon this occasion there were manifestations of deep feeling such as are seldom witnessed in a gathering of business men.

In addition to having been during the years of his active life, a model of business rectitude, a man of practical ideas and of marked executive ability, Mr. Warren had been one of those men who had the happy faculty of making warm and devoted friends of all those with whom they are associated. It was, therefore, with a sense of personal bereavement that the men who had regarded him at the same time as business associate and friend, came together to give expression to their sentiments concerning his life and character. These expressions of regard were not confined to the formally adopted resolutions which bore testimony to his worth as a man and a citizen, but one after another the members of the association, some with tear-dimmed eyes, gave estimates of his character, based upon years of association with him. One of those who had known him longest, and had been most intimately acquainted with him, and who was therefore, admirably qualified to make a just estimate of his worth, drew a word-picture of his dead friend, calling attention to his distinguishing characteristics in such as way as to make a reproduction of his utterances appropriate in this connection. Said the speaker alluded to:

"William Warren has passed away, after reaching the allotted bound of human life; het to none of us did he seem old, because his feelings were always young. In many particulars his character furnishes us an admirable model. My acquaintance with him covered considerable more than a quarter of a century; yet, to my mind, in the buoyancy and cordiality of his feelings, and the playful friendliness of his manner, he seemed the same to me the last time I met him that he did the first., There is not one here this morning, I apprehend, but will bear ready testimony to the sterling integrity of his character, which was manifested upon all occasions and under all circumstances. He always impressed me very strongly with a kindliness of character which was manifest at all times. I have rarely met him of late years, even if but for a moment on the street, that hs did not give expression to some word of solicitude in respect to my personal welfare. I think we shall all remember him, and mourn him as a personal friend.

"He was distinguished for his charity and considerateness of others, even with those with whom he did not agree. He was eminetly a man of peach, and in no attitude was his character more striking or worthy of emulation than in his willingness to yield his preferences for the sake of peace and harmony. The charity and kindliness of his nature were strongly evidenced in his conceding to others the value of their opinion, though they might conflict with those he entertained. He was also characterized by large-hearted generosity and hospitality, of which not only myself personally, but members of my family have had conspicuous evidence. He was in the highest sense of the word a gentleman, and we shall cherish his memory for his honorably bearing in business relations, as well as for the social amenities which were among his distinguishing characteristics."

Another speaker said on this occasion: "It is a custom in some of the countries in the far east for all passers to stop at the signs of mourning, and with uncovered heads to utter a prayer, and commend the soul of the dead to God. Amid the noise of a busy city, we have assembled for the purpose of paying tribute to the memory of one of our associates -- a friend who has passed out from among us to the life beyond. Not as strangers who follow a custom, and who are actuated by respectful and religious zeal for the soul of the dead, but as friends, we mourn the loss of a friend, whos friendship was an honor, and for whose future a sure glory has been secured. William Warren was the highest type of Christian manhood to be found, for he loved his God with all his heart, and his neighbor as himself. Brave in his loyal defense of the right, considerate and gentle to those who differed from him, tender as a child in his affection, modest as a woman in his daily work, his charity was toward all. His benevolence to the needy was as thorough and ready as it was unostentatious. His industry in his buseness was persistent. All loved him, and those who knew him best loved him most."

Others who were present, younger men, who had been aided, encouraged and assisted to establish themselves in life by Mr. Warren, paid warm tribute to the memory of their friend and adviser, and emphasized the beneficence of his existence. On the day following this meeting his remains were followed to their last resting place in the cemetry at Lake Forest by prominent representatives of the Insurance interests of other cities, and by the Chicago underwriters, who attended the funeral in a body.

As soon as the news of his death was coveyed to the public, telgrams and letters of condolence came to his family from all parts of the territory of which he had so long had charge as a representative of the insurance interest. With one accord the senders of these messages testified to his able management of the affairs intrusted to his care, and in addition they breathed a uniform sentiment of love and respect for one who had not only dealt justly and honorably with them as subordinates in a business capacity, but whose intercourse with them had always been characterized by the most charming courtesy, and a friendly interest in their individual success and welfare. Each seemed to feel that in the death of Mr. Warren he had not only lost one of the ablest and most successful representatives of their profession, but a much esteemed personal friend. Even those operating at remote agencies, who did not enjoy a personal acquaintance with him, and whos only knowledge of his character had been gleaned from their correspondence with him, seemed to have been charmed by the intercourse, and to have a thorough appreciation of his kindliness, his probity, and his moral worth, as well as of his professional ability.

A worthy citizen in all the relations of life, he was always interested in the advancement of religious and educational work. A successful business man, his generosity kept pace with his prosperity, and he contributed liberally of his means to the advancement of religious, educational and charitable enterprises, and participated zealously in carrying forward any work of this character with which he became identified, bringing to bear upon financial and other problems to be solved in connection therewith, an experience in the conduct of affairs, executive ability and sound judgment, which never failed to bring about the best results attainable.

Of the family of Mr. Warren, Mrs. Warren is still living in the old home at Lake Forrest [sic], and of five sons and two daughters, all are living but one. One of the daughters, Helen, wife of J. C. King of Pittsburgh, Pa., died Nov. 4, 1889, six days before the death of her father; the other is the wife of Rev. W. T. Elsing, pastor of the DeWitt Memorial Church of New York. Of five sons, W. S. Warren succeeded his father, and is associated with the management of the northwestern department of the Liverpool & London & Globe Insurance Company, while the youngest, Aubrey, is also connected with the company. Of the other sons, John is a farmer, and Seymour and Lansing are engaged in business enterprises in Denver, Colo., the son last mentioned being well known as one of the editors and owners of the Denver Times.

The National Magazine 16, no. 3 (July 1892): 349-353.

Portraits and Biographies of the Fire Underwriters of the City of Chicago (1895).

William Warren, Late Resident Secretary, Liverpool & London & Globe Insurance Company.

William Warren was born in the town of Uffington, County of Berks, England, on the 22d day of March, 1819. Coming to this country at an early period he was appointed Local Agent of the Liverpool & London & Globe Insurance Company in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1853, and from there moved to Cincinnati in 1859 to fill the position of General Agent for the same company. He came to Chicago in 1860 and a still greater promotion was accepted by him in 1875, as Resident Secretary, and he took charge of the immense business of this company for all the Northwestern States and Territories, and for twelve years he so managed the affairs of the Liverpool & London & Globe Insurance Company in the Northwest that not only were profits made each year, but the company everywhere was made more popular.

A continual service in one company, the Liverpool & London & Globe, for thirty-five years, goes to show the fidelity to duty of Mr. Warren, and proves conclusively the high record in which he was held by the management of this grand organization. He was a gentleman of the old school, always polite and affable to those who had business with him. As an Underwriter, Mr. Warren had no superior in this part of the world, being cautious, conservative, and eminently rigid in his notions, and of the highest probity, both in his business and in private life. He died November 10th, 1889.

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