THEY are members of one of the worlds most exclusive clubs. The Lloyds names are a wealthy elite who have traditionally financed the multi-billion-pound London insurance market, gambling their fortunes on the globes uncertainties.
For more than three centuries the identities of these names has stayed a secret. Membership confers a private badge of affluence marking them out to only those in the know by dint of their access to the full list.
The Sunday Times, however, has seen copies of the confidential Lloyds Blue Books, the index of names that gives details of its membership.
It reveals for the first time just how hard hundreds of Britains wealthiest people have been hit by the bursting of the dotcom bubble, a spate of corporate scandals such as Enron and WorldCom, and the September 11 terrorist attacks on America.
Leaked by a City insider angry with the Lloyds leadership after losing nearly £1m, the lists for 2000 and 2003 are a notable social document, a whos who of old money with a sprinkling of nouveaux riches.
They contain the names of 44 lords and 18 ladies; 42 knights; one duke; three viscounts; six earls, 12 serving or former MPs, and one MEP. There is one lord justice of appeal, at least three high court judges and 10 QCs. Among other names are at least one count, two contessas and five other members of foreign royalty. There are 18 holders of the OBE, 12 CBEs and 14 MBEs.
Prominent among the 5,500 entries for the year 2000 are some of the countrys most famous monied families including the Pilkingtons, of glass manufacturing fame; Rachel Vestey thought to be from the family that made millions in the meat trade; a Palmer-Tomkinson and Simon Bowes Lyon, the Queens cousin.
But it is not all old money. Alongside the Duke of St Albans, Earl Alexander of Tunis and the Earl of Belfast are Trevor Brooking, the former England footballer, and Dennis Amiss, the former England cricketer.
Among the senior political names are Lord Strathclyde, the shadow leader of the Lords, Archie Norman, the former Asda chairman and one-time Tory party chief executive, Sir Peter Lloyd and Sir John Wheeler, the former Tory ministers, and James Arbuthnot, the former opposition chief whip.
Last week many of the members expressed disappointment at losing huge sums in the past few years and some said they intended to leave as soon as they have paid off their debts.
One of these is Sir David Hope-Dunbar, multi-millionaire founder of the company that became Allied Dunbar. He has experienced huge losses as a result of the dotcom collapse.
Hope-Dunbar said names would have hoped to make a modest 6% to 10% in an investment but instead lost about 1.6 times their original stake. I am getting to a situation where the Lloyds losses exceed my income, he said. He admitted some regret in staying on as a name but added: Its a cyclical market. I know very few names that wont leave at the end of the 2004 trading period.
The Earl of Onslow, a member since 1969, is also hoping to leave. I had losses and they were worse than those during the bad 1989-92 years. I have been through a tough time but now I should begin to receive cheques again. I wont stay in Lloyds for a lot longer as I want to get my money back.
Tony Norcott, a company director from the West Midlands, said his losses were caused by the September 11 attacks on America. A lot of people left Lloyds when these cash calls were made because, to put it bluntly, they did not have enough money to stay in.
A lot of us went fairly heavily into debt. You have to be very wealthy to write cheques out for half a million quid and not feel it.
One big loser was Lady Delves Broughton, for whom September 11 cost nearly £2m. She had to suspend renovation work at her country home, the 18th-century Doddington Hall in Cheshire.
The losses are the downside of a risky game. Being a name is like being in a huge casino where millionaire members of syndicates gamble their fortunes on the exigencies of nature and the volatile unpredictability of the global free market. The syndicates make their members rich if the policy premiums they charge to insure risks are greater than the payouts. But problems arise if there are large claims.
All Lloyds names have unlimited liability, which means the syndicates can seize not just the funds they have put up (at least £250,000 in most cases) but also all their assets, including homes, cars and art treasures. By 1992 more than 30 names had committed suicide as a result of financial ruin.
For nearly three centuries Lloyds had been considered a safe bet. But all that changed in the late 1980s when the market was plunged into chaos by a series of unexpected claims in the US for pollution and asbestosis relating to policies written decades before.
Of those names that survived, many wanted to leave. But others were persuaded to stay on by smooth-talking agents who said they could recover at least some of their losses in a more tightly regulated market. For a while the market did recover.
But by 1997 the insurance sector hit more problems and losses. The losses are particularly bad this year because under accounting rules the syndicates operate on a three-year time lag. Names are being asked now to make up for shortfalls from policies underwritten in 2000 and 2001, which saw Enron, WorldCom, the dotcom disasters and September 11.
Since 2001, the insurance climate has improved. Many of those names who manage to stay on will be making money again soon. One Lloyds insider is so angry that he has decided to leak the list of names. He says his marriage has been destroyed and he has lost nearly £1m since 1993.
He will be forced into personal bankruptcy later this year. I am heading for the cliffs. Something has to be done about the misery of thousands of men and women who face bankruptcy or financial slavery for the rest of their lives through the greed and manipulation of some of those at Lloyds, he said.
Lloyds has announced reforms so that no new individual members will be able to underwrite on an unlimited basis. But this is too late for some who are now campaigning to get compensation from Lloyds.
A Lloyds spokeswoman said last night: Any breach of trust will be fully investigated by Lloyds. Lloyds does not believe that names were mislead during the underwriting years in question.
Additional reporting: Rachel Dobson, David Robertson and Nina Goswami
Those who wish to join the campaign should contact The Lloyds Private Capital Association, PO Box 225, Dorset House, Duke Street, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1TB