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valuations the limits of life are fixed. "In our calculation (said Prof. Wright to the National Ins. Convention, 1871) we cannot admit of any indeterminateness as to the termination of the risk; therefore we assume 100 in Massachusetts, or 96 as the limit in N. Y." In the preface to the new ed. of his table he says, more at large :
The combined experience on Actuaries' rate of mort. assumes that of 100,000 persons living at the age of 10, the last will die in his 99th year. Consequently it is assumed, in calculating the prem., that the claim on any pol. must be paid at the end of that year if not before, notwithstanding that by the terms of the pol. it is not payable till death, and there is no impossibility of a party living some years beyond the age of 100, and paying prems. in each of those years. Hence it will be seen that in the tables [of the department], every whole-life pol, both as to prem. and reserve, is treated precisely as if it were an endowment pol. payable at 100 or previous death.
We don't find that the offices using the Experience Table, in the conduct of their bus. adopt this limit, or those using the American Experience Table the limit of 96; but it would be an excellent thing to do in each case. It is one great drawback to life ins. the encumbering of very advanced age with the payment of prems. Of course there is the annuity aspect of the case to be considered. AMERICAN OFFICES TRADING IN EUROPE.-After several years of "prospecting," the American offices have finally "invaded" Europe. The following is something like the order of their coming. The Germania Life of N.Y. commenced operations in Germany in 1868 or 1869. The Home Fire of N.Y. commenced in Germany and in England towards the close of 1869. The Equitable Life of N. Y. commenced in Ireland and in the North of England early in 1870. The New York Life commenced in Lond. and on the Continent of Europe in April, 1870. The North America Life, and the National Life (of N.Y.), each towards the autumn of 1870. We shall give an outline of each of these offices under its alphabetical title. Several of them are doing a very successful bus., which the recent crusade against them has, by drawing extended attention to their real merits, as against their imaginary demerits, helped to foster. The North America has taken over the Life bus. of the English. The New York Life is in negociation for taking over the entire bus. of the European. It would be a great blessing to the policy-holders to find themselves in such a sound co.
The recent fire at Chicago will involve a loss of something like £400,000 on the Home. The available assets of the Co. on 31st December last, were (including £500,000 of paidup cap.) £900,000. After payment of this loss, the cap. will remain intact; and the proprietors will immediately reinstate a reserve fund of £300,000. This is the way to deserve and secure confidence.
AMICABLE CONTRIBUTION.-The name under which the Hand-in-Hand was orig. founded in 1696. In 1698 it took its present name.
AMICABLE MUT. LIFE Assu. So., founded in Dublin in 1867, with a guarantee fund. The advertisement said:
Amongst the many new features of this office the following may be noticed:-Parties can insure cheaper in this society than almost any other; indeed, in many cases a policy for £1250 could be issued for the same prem, as charged by other offices for £1000. Parties insured with this So. know exactly the surrender value of their policies from year to year, without having recourse to the office; and policies may be surrendered after payment of first year's premium. Non-forfeiture of premiums paid. Mr. J. Innes was the founder of the Co.; Mr. Albert J. Deacon the Sec. The bus. was worked in connexion with the Etna Fire. In 1868 its bus. was trans. to the United Ports and General.
AMICABLE So. FOR A PERPEtual Assu. OFFICE.-The formation of this So. dates back to the 24th January, 1705, but it was not until the 25th July, in the following year, that the promoters, the Lord Bishop of Oxford, Sir Thomas Aleyn, Bart., and others, obtained from Queen Anne a charter (granted in the 5th year of her reign) for incorp. them, and their successors, by the name above given, with power to purchase lands, sue and be sued, and to have a common seal.
The preamble to this charter sets forth the objects of its founders very succinctly: ANNE, by the Grace of God, Queen of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc.: To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting: Whereas Humberstone Baron, John Hartley, William Spenceley, Richard Musgrave and Others, have by their humble petition represented unto Us, That they have agreed upon and entered into a voluntary Society, for the mutual benefit and interest of every person that shall at any time be a Member thereof, in order to provide for their Wives, Children and other relations, after a more easy, certain and advantageous method than any that hath hitherto been thought of, by an Amicable Contribution, according to certain Articles or Agreements entered into by the said Petitioners for the purposes aforesaid. And it has been humbly certified unto us, that their design will be of singular Use and Relief to many Families, by providing for great numbers of Widows and Orphans, who might probably be otherwise left wholly destitute of a maintenance by the sudden death of those on whom they depend. And the said Petitioners have therefore humbly prayed Us to incorporate them and all others that are or shall be concerned in the Society of Perpetual Assurance Office, etc. Now know ye That we being graciously pleased to gratify the said Petitioners in their said request, and to encourage the said undertaking of our especial grace, certain knowledge and mere motion have granted, etc.
Her said Majesty thereby constituted the persons therein named and all other persons who should be admitted to be subs. to the So. therein named, according to the directions thereinafter contained, not exceeding the number therein mentioned, one body corporate and politic in deed and in name, by the name of The Amicable So. for a Perpetual Assu. Office, with perpetual succession and with power to take, purchase, hold, and retain to them and their successors any manors, lands, tenements, rents, hereditaments, goods, and chattels, and to do and execute all and singular other matters and things necessary relating thereto, and to sue and be sued and to have and use a common seal for the affairs
and business of the said Society, and to grant pol. of assu. under the seal of the said Corp., entitling the nominees of the subscribers or members of the said So. to such dividends as therein mentioned, and to make and raise a joint stock or fund from time to time for the ends and purposes therein mentioned; and by the said Charter it was ordained that the affairs and business of the said Corp. should be ordered, managed, and directed by twelve members of the said So., to be annually elected directors of the said So., in the manner therein prescribed; and at any general court (not consisting of less than twenty members of the said Corp.) it should be lawful for the members there assembled to make byelaws, rules, orders and ordinances for the good government of the said Amicable So. and the members and affairs thereof, and to alter, change, or annul the same, or any of them, so as such bye-laws, rules, orders, and ordinances, should be reasonable, and not repugnant or contrary to the laws or statutes of this realm, or to the prejudice of any other co. or corp.
The number of persons to be incorp. was not to exceed 2,000, but might be less; each person was to receive a pol. under the seal of the Corp. entitling his nominee or assigns to a dividend on his or her decease, in the manner mentioned in the Charter, viz., if there were the full 2,000 members then, one-sixth of the contributions amongst those who so died during the first year. In the second year the sum of £4,000 was to be divided amongst the representatives of the deceased members; in the third year, £6,000; fourth year, £8,000; fifth year, £10,000, and so ever afterwards, with so much more as should be agreed by a general court of members to be held ann. If there were not the full 2,000 members, then the ann. divisions were to be in proportion to the actual numbers. The remainder of the funds, together with interest realized thereon, as also the purchasemoney for annuities sold to the members, was to accumulate for the benefit of the members generally.
The contribution to the funds of the So. was to be £6 4s. p.a. In add. to which the first 2,000 members were each to pay five shillings to the registrar of the So. [HARTLEY, JOHN], and five shillings to the joint stock of the So. All subsequent members were to pay 10s. to the joint stock. Each member was to have one vote at the general courts. Directors were to take oath for the due performance of their trust. They might hold courts when and as often as they thought fit; they might admit or reject members. A register of the members was to be kept, to which all persons interested might have access without fee. In case of death authentic certificates were required to be produced. The So. was not to deal in bills of exchange, or enter upon the business of banking, nor deal in bullion, on penalty of forfeiture of the charter. The patent of the charter was declared valid at law, and was to be construed in the most favourable sense to the So.-contrary to the modern practice of interpreting all conditions and covenants against ins. asso.
The preceding are the chief provisions of the orig. charter; and to insure accuracy we have extracted the same from an authenticated copy. This was the more necessary, as we have not found any previous writer who has taken the trouble to give accurate details of the original plan of this So.
It will be observed that in the foregoing scheme there is no limitation as to age; the contribution being the same from all members-the advantages the same to all who died in any one year. If the deaths were few in any particular year, the sum to be divided would of course produce larger results to each participant. The directors, indeed, had an optional power of admitting or rejecting applicants; and hence they could take into account age, condition of health, etc. But there was this peculiar provision in sec. xii. of the Charter, that subscribers or members might "change their nominees,” on delivering up the former policy and paying two shillings for a new one!
All the affairs of the Corp. were to be managed by the court of directors, in accordance with the powers granted by the charter and the bye-laws. The number of directors was never to be less than 12, chosen yearly from among the members within forty days after every 25th day of March. And at least four of the directors of the preceding year were always to remain in office, "if so many shall then inhabit within the bills of mort.," to "instruct the rest of the newly-elected directors in the government and management of the affairs of the said So."
The So. had power to make bye-laws at general courts of not less than twenty members. This power was first exercised in 1707; and some of the matters upon which the orig. charter was silent were regulated by these means. It thus came to be provided that all persons at the time of their admission as members must be between the ages of 12 and 45, and must then appear to be in a good state of health; persons living in the country might be admitted by certificates and affidavits, forms being supplied by the office. Any person might have two or three several ins. (or numbers) on one and the same life, whereby such person "would be entitled to a claim on each number so insured." The registrar of the So. was called upon to find security for £2,000.
Five members of the So. were elected annually to audit the accounts, who were by their office to inspect every transaction of the So., to examine all vouchers for receipts and payments, and upon oath to lay before the quarterly and annual general courts, the quarterly and annual accounts of the So. Auditors were first appointed in 1708.
The actual plan of working can only be inferred from the foregoing; it would appear to be this: at the end of the fourth year, there being 2,000 members, the sum of 10,000 p.a. was to be divided amongst those who died during the year. This would require the sum of £5 per share or member; the bal. of the contribution being left to accumulate. At this period the ordinary prem. to insure £100 for one year was £5. This rate was
charged by the underwriters; it was natural that it should be adopted here. If 100 persons died each year out of the 2,000 members, £100 each would be secured. If a larger number of deaths, a smaller sum; if a smaller number of deaths, a larger sum. element of certainty was still wanting.
It has been said that Sir Thomas Aleyn had gained certain notions of the chances of human life from a study of the weekly bills of mort. He had seen by these little blackbordered sheets, issued every Thursday morning, by the Hon. the Co. of Parish Clerks, that about one in every 20 of the estimated pop. of Lond. died ann., and that upon this pivot of knowledge the So. was founded. We suspect, however, this may have been an after-thought, invented or suggested with a view to elevate it a little above the speculative asso. of the period.
The method of selecting lives appears to have been orig. that the persons proposing appeared personally before the court of directors, each director having the privilege of putting any questions he pleased to the applicant for admission, and on his withdrawing to pronounce their opinions, seriatim, as to the eligibility or otherwise of the proposed insurer. There was no formal medical examination. All persons coming within the rules of the So., and appearing in a good state of health, were eligible as members. At a later period of the century all persons applying for membership were required to give, in writing, their names, places of abode, professions, and ages; and such applicants could not be admitted members if they were in the army or navy, or likely to reside in foreign parts, or of dangerous occupations.
The charter authorized the commencement of bus. as from the 25th March, 1706. The number of subs. in that year was 875, of whom 29 died. The share of div. for each was £30 25. 9d. £875 only being divided. In the 2nd year the number of members was the full 2,000, of whom 96 died. The sum divided was £4,000, each share being £41 135. 4d. In the 3rd year, out of 2,000 members, 122 died. £6,000 was divided, each share realizing £50 35. 6d. In the 4th year 87 members died; £8,000 was divided, each share being £91 19s. old. At that time the capital stock of the So. had reached £25,000. In the 5th and subsequent years £10,000 was divided; but we find no return of the number of deaths.
It would appear that the charter given to this So. was regarded by it as a sort of monopoly; for in 1707 or 1708, on some other persons endeavouring to obtain a charter for the ins. of lives, this So. was heard by counsel against the same, and the granting of their charter was stopped at the Great Seal.
Hatton, in his New View of Lond., pub. 1708, speaking of the ins. asso. says:
A third is the Amicable So., or Perpetual Assu., whose office is kept against St. Dunstan's Church, in Fleet Street, settled by patent July anno. 1706, who for 5s. entrance, 5s. into the joint stock, 15. for the stamp, 1 s. p. quarter, do divide among the claimants at the end of every year, at the 25th March, thus: £2000 the first year, £4000 the second, £6000 the third, £8000 the fourth, £10,000 the fifth year, and at least £10,000 ann. ever afterward (the So. to consist of 2000 persons, none to be admitted under 12 nor above 55), and the remainder of the yearly payments to be improved for the benefit of the So.
In 1710 there was pub.: The Charter of the Corp. of the Amicable So. for a Perpetual Assu. Office, together with the bye-laws thereunto belonging; also an account of the numbers that have died in each year, and the sum of the yearly dividends that have been paid.
In 1711 it was announced in the public papers that several policies of ins. out of Mr. Hartley's office were to be sold, "Enquire at the Cheshire Cheeze, in Flower de Luce Court, Fleet St."
In a prospectus for another perpetual ins. office, issued in 1712, is the following: "An instance of Her Majesty's favour to incorp. a number of persons, when it is not against the laws of the nation, but for the public good, is that of Mr. Hartley's office, which is proved to be for a general good, and is settled upon a solid foundation."
It will be seen that Mr. Hartley's name was very prominently associated with the So. He had been its acting manager from the beginning, and was named in the charter. It now becomes necessary, as part of the hist. of the So. itself, to give some details concerning him.
Mr. Hartley's salary, under the charter, was settled for 14 years certain, and as many years after as he should live, at £500 p.a. He was to be allowed for two clerks £100 p.a. ; for a messenger, £26 p.a.; and for house-rent, coals, and candles, £40 p.a., making in all £466 p.a. During the earlier years of the So. one of his clerks made some embezzlements amounting in all to £1,700 and upwards. Mr. Hartley "felt bound to make good this amount." He did so by selling to the So. £250 p.a. of his own salary, so that thereafter he received but £50 p.a. for his personal services. This was considered a very honourable proceeding on the part of Mr. Hartley; but unfortunately his next financial act cannot be regarded quite in the same light, and it almost looks as if he had become too honest to remain honest. In May, 1713-but we had better quote from a document pub. under authority :
When the money was got together to pay the claims of the preceding year, and lodged in the hands of the then treasurer [Mr. Hartley] for that purpose, he withdrew himself with a very considerable sum of money, which for a time brought some disrepute upon the So., and involved the So. in great troubles and difficulties. Note. The ballance of cash in his hands on the 29th of April, as afterwards appeared when the books were made up, was £4968 175. 11d., which together with what he received
after that time, and before he withdrew himself, and with tickets in lottery 1710, and lottery 1712, which he sold, amounted to £6500 and upwards. Upon which (continues the report) the treasurer and his securities were prosecuted at law, until at a general court held 13th Nov. last, they offered £4000 by way of composition, and the general court agreed to accept it and some other matters in full. [Note, the £4000 was paid and laid out for the benefit of the So.] And though this has been the greatest loss that ever befel the So.; yet 'tis hoped that the great care which has since been taken to estab. a better way of management than was known before, will in great measure compensate that loss.
The document which we quote then attempts at some length to justify the directors in the trust they had placed in Hartley, and which he so sadly abused.
It is proverbial that misfortunes never come singly, and so we again quote from a document of the period :
Another misfortune which befel this corp. about the same time was, that one Wall, who pretended himself to be a very great accountant, and was taken in at first to review the state of the charge against Mr. Hartley, as the same had been made out by the auditors; and who after he had spent a year in the accounts agreed with the auditors in such their charge within a very trifle, and was afterwards continued in the said office under the title of accountant, and a salary of £50 a year was allow'd him; and being in the office, took upon him to fill up receipts for contributions and embezzled the money; but was soon detected and turned away, and will be prosecuted if there be any hopes of getting anything from him. Note. The loss by Wall is about £300.
But, say the managers, notwithstanding all these seeming difficulties which have justly occasioned differences, distrusts, and jealousies among the members of the corporation; the So. is now fix'd on a better foot than ever, and it is hoped will on examination be found to be the best of the kind now known.
In 1713 was pub. A True State of the Amicable So. at the corner of Dean St., Fetter Lane; with reasons for altering the Government of, and estab. that So. on a solid and sure foundation. This pamphlet was pub. by an outside hand, and we have discovered the reasons for his proceeding. We had better give these in the terse phaseology of the period : In August last a person who called himself Proprietor, proposed to the directors a scheme or project, which he pretended would be of very great advantage to the Society, and insisted to have £500 down and £250 p.a. for such his project, if made use of; but on perusing the same, no advantage appeared but to himself, whereupon it was utterly rejected as useless and insignificant, and so far from being worth such an exorbitant reward, that it was not worth the least notice, which is the reason the directors have saved themselves the trouble of exposing him and his fallacious project, he having sufficiently exposed himself thereby.
And as to the airy satisfaction which this famous projector buoys himself up with of getting a new charter, it may be wonder'd what assurance he can have to flatter himself and endeavour to delude others after such a manner. If he would but consider what difficulties the gentlemen concerned in the late office in Raquet Court now labour under on that account, who seem to have as good reasons to hope for the royal favour as any new projector of such a society can have.
The projector must also be told of a charter for ins. on lives, which was passed as far as the Broad Seal, and stop'd there by the late Lord Chancellor Cowper, on hearing this Society's counsel against the same, altho' such charter passed the then Attorney or Solicitor-General, and all other offices.
In the same year (1713) a further bye-law was made as to arrears of the quarterly payments of £1 IIS. For non-payment of one quarter, Is. ; two successive quarters, 35. ; three, 6s.; four, 10s.
In this year also the following notice appeared in the newspapers: "The Corp. of the Amicable So., etc., give notice, that in pursuance of the power given them by their Charter, they will grant annuities to any member not exceeding £50 p.a. on life." This, we suspect, may have been adopted with a view to replenish the exchequer.
We do not discover precisely the nature of the scheme referred to in the "True State, etc." But in the Courant of 19th Feb., 1714, we find the following:
Whereas a scheme was lately proposed to the Corp. of the Amicable So., not only to lessen but to take off their yearly payments of £6 45. in 7 years. The same proving contrary to their charter could not be made use of, altho' great advantages would have been had thereby; and therefore several members of that So. have encouraged the proprietor to make a new so. of the same number according to the said scheme, which divides £10,000 yearly, or £100 on the death of a nominee. A subs. is to pay 5s. entrance, £4 p.a. for 7 years, and a yearly rebate of £4 on every policy, to be deducted when a claim is received. The So. is to commence the 10th June next, and a book for subs. will be opened the 10th March, at Owen's coffee-house at Simond's Inn, Chancery-lane.
The directors of the So. replied in the Post-Boy of 18th March following, thus: Whereas it has been lately insinuated in several advts. in the Postman, that a scheme hath been proposed to the Amicable So., the corner of Dean St. in Fetter Lane, but not made use of as being contrary to their charter; the directors of the said So. do hereby certify, that there are several very material objections to the said scheme, that the premium of £500 to be paid the proprietor according to his proposal, and the £250 p.a. demanded by him for a project which would have increased the charge of the So. and lessened the dividends to the members thereof: Wherefore they did not think fit to make any report in favour of the said scheme at any general court of the said corp. And although printed proposals relating to the said scheme were with great industry distributed to many of the members of the said So., and two general courts of the said corp, held within a month after the distribution of such proposals, yet no person thought fit to offer anything in favour of the said scheme or the proprietor thereof at either of the said courts.
N.B.-The Amicable So. by its charter is to divide £10,000 per ann., but the proprietor by his scheme proposes much less for several years, and though he speaks of £6 4s. p.a. as a large contribution, yet by his scheme the members are to contribute £8 45. yearly, whereas the payments in the Amicable So. will be reduced to £4 4s. p.a. at Lady-day.
Beware of societies without a charter; remember that of Racquet Court.
The agitation in the affairs of the Society still continued ; and in the Courant of 14th May, same year, we find the following:
Whereas it has been several times adv. in the Postman that a true state of the Amicable So., the corner of Dean Street, Fetter Lane, was printed and sold by N. Crouch, in the Poultry. To prevent
any persons being imposed on by the said advt., the directors of the said Amicable So. do hereby give notice, that the account contained in the said state is false, and the proposal therein mentioned impracticable, as will appear by a true account, state, and condition of the said So., printed by order of the Court of Directors, and to be had gratis at their office, the corner of Dean Street, Fetter Lane. And all persons who are entitled to any claims on the said So. for the year 1713, are desired to take notice, that attendance will be given by the directors, at their office, every Wednesday, etc., etc., pursuant to a bye-law on that behalf.
Here is the document referred to in the preceding, compiled by Thomas Hodgson, the new registrar of the So. (appointed 1713): An account of the State and Condition of the Corp. and of the joint-stock of the So. as it stood upon the account thereof, made up by the auditors, and brought down to Lady-day, 1714, inclusive; wherein it is stated (for we can give only an extract):
It must be admitted that several persons have thought fit to discontinue their payments and suffer themselves to be excluded either by misfortunes in the world, or because they thought their member lived too long: or otherwise some have suffered exclusions for want of putting in new lives after they have received their claims; and others because the directors would not be imposed upon by bad lives or for that they thought it difficult to get a fit person to appear at the Board of Directors in order to be admitted; and that by these means 137 of the 2000 policies have fallen into the Society's own hands: But then the directors have from time to time admitted new lives thereon for the benefit of the So., after such exclusions were compleated. And in 1712 the So. had two claims, and in 1713 four claims on account of such policies, besides the benefit of the contributions towards the joint stock so long as the excluded members continued to pay their quarteridges; however, the corp. will subsist better by the contributions of others than by contributing to its own joint stock; and the directors taking the same into their consideration, have by the advice and with the concurrence of the acting auditors, proposed methods for sale of all the Society's own policies, which will bring into the Society near £1000 ready money, besides a reasonable price for the joint stock belonging to each policy, and the annual contributions kept up for the future, as may be seen more at large in the printed scheme which has been distributed to the members of the So.
In April, 1715, the following notice was issued by the So. :
This is to advertise the members of the corp. of the Amicable So. for a Perpetual Assu. Office, that over and above the £10,000 annually paid to claims, there will be divided among the members of the said So. a further sum of £4000 yearly, from Lady-day, 1715, which sum of £4000 arises from the surplus and int. of the stock, and will reduce the yearly payments from £6 4s. to £4 4s. for the future; and as this dividend is directed to be made quarterly, 1000 thereof will be distributed among the members at Midsummer next, 1715.
Thus the promised reduction of the ann. contribution to £4 4s. was realized in a contingent form; the members paid the £6 45. as previously, and received a quarterly return or abatement.
In 1719 and 1720-South-sea period-when various schemes of ins. were being projected, the managers of this So. were on the alert, and took the precaution to lodge a caveat with the Attorney-General against granting a charter to any new undertaking of this description, without this So. first being heard by counsel against it. Thus, on the occasion of the applications to Parl. by the York Buildings Co., and by Sir James Hallet and others, for charters of incorp. to carry on the bus. of life ins., the So. did appear by counsel, and the charters prayed for were not granted. The affidavit of the registrar on that occasion stated the following facts:
That the members of the corp. of the Amicable So. did begin to act under their said charter in the year 1706, and have continued to act ever since; and the directors for the_time being have admitted members, granted policies on lives, and improved their joint stock at int. on Government securities and otherwise, which now amounts to £50,000 or thereabouts; and that the said corp. hath made annual dividends to the claimants of the members of the said corp., who have dyed in each year since the charter was obtained, according to the directions thereof; and that in the year 1710, and ever since the said corp. hath divided £10,000 p.a. amongst the claimants.
In 1721, the bus. of the Brotherly So. (annuities) merged into Amicable.
In 1730 (3 Geo. II.), the So. applied for and obtained an additional charter. Its preamble recites that the members had on sundry occasions found themselves reduced to great inconveniences and difficulties for want of some further powers and authorities. These were now granted, and, briefly stated, were as follows: No member was to vote, except real contributors on his or her own life. Directors may administer oaths relating to the health of proposed members, and to the deaths of members; or relating to lost policies. Claims were to be paid as of the year wherein they shall be allowed. Members, their nominees, executors, etc., five quarters in arrear of subscription, were to be excluded on three months' notice in the Lond. Gazette.
These amendments indicate what had been found to be the weak places of the original plan; and show therefore the improvements which were taking place in the management. It appears that some modification was introduced into the working of the So. in 1734; as a general court then determined that a portion of the ann. income of the So. should be retained with a view to equalizing the amounts payable under the policies, and especially for augmenting the sums whenever the ordinary means of division would yield an amount less than £100. It was one of the defects in the orig. scheme that there was no certainty in operations of the So. as to the amount which would be received on the death of a
In 1737 all bye-laws, except that of 1713, were repealed, and a fresh series enacted, of which the following are the chief:
No person to be admitted a member under age of 12 or over 45, except in the exchange of policies; and no member to be admitted at all except with the approbation and consent of 7 directors in court assembled.