Northampton Annuity Tables

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 Eng MS 31
  • Dates of Creation
      Early 19th Century
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      Extent of unit of description: 315 x 202 mm.  1 volume (62 folios); Binding: full-bound in vellum over boards.

Scope and Content

The volume contains tables to calculate values of annuities for various terms of years, from birth to the age of 96. Folio 1r is annotated in pencil: 'Northampton tables 3 per cent. Tables for finding the amount of an annuity of £1 for terms', and 'Barretts Tables vide F. Baily'. The manuscript is undated but the paper is watermarked 1814. Enclosed is a sheet of tables, annotated: 'By these tables the values of any member of joint lives may be found not exceeding 4 joint lives agreeable to the hypothesis of an equal decrement of life, off all ages.'

The tables appear to be based upon the work of George Barrett (1752-1821), actuary, and Francis Baily (1774-1844), stockbroker and astronomer. Barrett developed a series of life-assurance and annuity tables using a columnar method. These came to the attention of Baily, who read a paper on them to the Royal Society in 1812, which was published as an appendix to the 1813 edition of Baily's Doctrine of interest and annuities. During the 18th century mortality tables were produced from records of deaths in several towns in order to show how many people, out of a certain number living there at each age, die annually. These enabled actuaries to calculate what level of annuity would be sufficient to provide for the payment of a fixed sum, say £100, at death. One of the first and most widely used mortality tables was that produced by Richard Price for Northampton - see his Observations on reversionary payments (1772) - although Francis Baily later showed that this was unreliable.

Source: William J. Ashworth, 'Baily, Francis (1774-1844)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. By permission of Oxford University Press --

Access Information

The manuscript is available for consultation by any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Purchased by Mrs Enriqueta Rylands, on behalf of the John Rylands Library, in 1901 from James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford.


Description compiled by Henry Sullivan, project archivist, and John Hodgson, Keeper of Manuscripts and Archives, with reference to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography article on Francis Baily.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogued in the Hand-List of the Collection of English Manuscripts in the John Rylands Library, 1928 (English MS 31).

Custodial History

Formerly part of the Bibliotheca Lindesiana, the Library of the Earls of Crawford and Balcarres, from Haigh Hall, Wigan, Lancashire.