The History of Devitt

January 28th, 2014 | In: Business, Car, Home, Motorbike

1836: The founding of Devitt and Moore

The newspaper article from 1939 detailing Devitt's inception
Australian paper: The Age, March 25, 1939. An article discussing the founding of Devitt & Moore in 1936.
A closer look at the newspaper article detailing Devitt's early days


Thomas Henry Devitt, a junior clerk for shipping firm Buckle, Baxter & Co., near Fenchurch station, was 36 years old and earned £120.00 a year. Devitt and his co-worker Joseph Moore were both unhappy with their positions and earnings and as a result decided to begin their own business within the shipping industry. With this professional shipping and insurance brokers Devitt & Moore were born, establishing the name Devitt in the business industry.

1840: Growing Success

Devitt & Moore were fast appointed as the main loading brokers for London’s leading ship-owner Duncan Dunbar. They were given responsibility for eleven of their ships whose course was set for Australia, this responsibility quickly expanded to the company being in charge of brokering 39 ships out of London in 1840.

An article discussing the publication of a book about Devitt & Moore; “Sea Trading and Sea Training” by Clement Jones, C.B. Illustrated.
Australian paper: The West Australian, Septermber 4, 1937
A portrait of Thomas Henry Devitt



1860: Thomas Henry Devitt dies

Thomas Henry Devitt dies in 1860 and as a result his son, Thomas Lane Devitt, then aged just 21 years old and Joseph Moore Jnr. became partners of the firm.

Devitt's first passenger ship - Parramatta


1866: First ship built to order

The Parramatta was kept as a passenger ship between London and Sydney for the next twenty two years.


1866 – Onwards: Thomas Lane Devitt

Business quickly grew and Devitt & Moore soon became owners of a vast fleet of ships that became key traders between London and Australia. Devitt soon expanded his involvement within the shipping industry and built a name for himself as a key player in the shipping business. Particularly of note, Devitt contributed to the development and management of the famous Orient Line.

A ship fact sheet for the beginning of the Orient Line
P&O Heritage Fact Sheet: 1902, Miss Devitt, daughter of Sir Thomas Devitt an Orience Line Manager, launches the ship, ORONTES.
An article from the London Gazette in 1899

1899: Devitt became Insurance Brokers

Whilst Sir Thomas Devitt continued his work within the shipping industry and explored the concept of cadet training for the Navy and Marines, his second son, Howson Foulger Devitt, began a partnership in insurance broking at Lloyd’s in London.

An image of Sir Thomas Lane Devitt


1916: Thomas Lane Devitt becomes a Baronet

In 1916 Thomas Lane Devitt became the first Baronet with the surname Devitt, for his services to shipping, thanks to his involvement in Devitt & Moore, The Orient Line, F. Green & Co., Lloyd’s Register and an abundance of nautical charities, associations and institutes.

1930: Howson expands

The brokerage firm expands to an office of 15 people including his two sons Howson Charles and Peter Kenneth. 

Seventh Edition of the Sherborne Register
Seventh Edition of the Sherborne Register,
The D.U. policy document


1936: Devitt “DU” motorcycle scheme was launched

The Devitt “DU” motorcycle scheme was launched, an innovative idea to sell motorcycle insurance through motorcycle dealers at the request of the Motor Agents Association, specialised in schemes for the dealer. This allowed customers to ride their bike away from the dealer the very same day they bought the bike!  This scheme was launched in conjunction with “H.P.” Motor Policies at Lloyd’s.

1939: The partnership was incorporated

The partnership of Devitt “DU” and “H.P.” Motor Policies was incorporated as Howson F Devitt & Sons LTD.

The partnership was incorporated

1955: An example of an Insurance Certificate and Additional Benefits on the 50’s

An example of an insurance certificate and additional benefits from the 50s

1955: Devitt “DU” became Devitt “DA”

After years of doing business under the name Devitt “DU” the scheme was changed to Devitt “DA” (Dealers Association)

The document declaring Devitt

1960: The ‘DA’ impact

The ‘DA’, Dealers Association, made a big impact on the marketing campaigns for Devitt.

1965: Devitt Langton & Dawnay Day Ltd

Devitt Langton & Dawnay Day Ltd was formed as a holding company for the Devitt broking interests. This meant a shareholding in Langton Underwriting Agencies at Lloyd’s and backed by Dawnay Day, a small merchant bank.


1972: The Caravan Club 

The Caravan Club scheme launched, Devitt provides insurance for. To date, The Caravan Club has 360,000 members. The company was formed in 1907 and survived World War 2.


1976: Forty Years of Successful Business

During 1976 Devitt celebrated its fortieth year of providing motorcycle insurance and being the leading company in this field.

A poster celebrating 40 years of providing motorcycle insurance

1979: Devitt Group Ltd. 

The holding company established in 1965 changing its name to Devitt Group Ltd, with the expansion of the Devitt broking operations, the sale of the Langton interests and the demise of Dawnay Day.

1989: British Diabetic Association 

Devitt launched a scheme for the British Diabetic Association.

1989: Relaunch 

Devitt re-launched the motorcycle dealer cover scheme.

1989: Steel Burrill Jones Group 

Devitt Group Ltd was purchased by Steel Burrill Jones Group plc. (SBJ)

1990: Devitt Insurance Services Ltd

Merging the personal lines and affinity group business which has been developed within the Devitt Group Ltd by its subsidiary companies Howson F Devitt & Sons Ltd, Devitt DA, and Double Cox Tyrie – Devitt Insurance Service Ltd was formed.

1993: BMW 

Devitt won the BMW scheme and it was launched. Devitt still proudly maintain this scheme today.

1998/9: The Bill

The Stratford office, in which Devitt were based, was leased to films scenes for The Bill. The staff were asked to appear in the police line-up.

1999: Churchill 

Churchill acquired Devitt Insurance Services Ltd.

2000: Winner Winner!

Devitt Insurance Services won the Training Award at the British Insurance Awards.

2000: Relocation, location, location

Devitt relocate their offices to North House, Romford.

2003: Royal Bank of Scotland

RBS bought out Churchill group, which included Devitt, for £1.1billion.

2008: Post Office 

Devitt launched the Post Office Motorcycle Scheme.

2010: Keep Britain Biking 

Devitt launched Keep Britain Biking, an online community biking site. KBB allows members to post blogs, share stories, photos and events from across the biking world.

2011: Management Buy Out 

Devitt Insurance completed the management buy out. Devitt Insurance Services is now owned by William Hughes (Managing Director) and Tony Chapman (Finance Director).

2011: RAC

Devitt successfully launched the RAC Motorcycle Scheme.

2012: The Caravan Club 

Devitt celebrate 40 years with The Caravan Club



2014: Keep Britain Biking re-launch

The Keep Britain Biking site, home for British bikers to share and swap stories, tips and events, is given a much needed re-launch and redesign!