Povey was born sometime around 1650–3 (some sources give 1652, but this has not been verified), probably in London but possibly in Staffordshire or Cheshire, as his family came from this area. He died in London on 4 May 1743. He was well-educated, though by his own statements he was largely self-taught. He played a minor role in Whig politics, and was briefly imprisoned for writing pamphlets against James II, but the accession of William III seems to have brought him no preferment. Instead he became a business promoter, setting up a coal-trading business around 1700 and then going on in 1705 to take over the Traders’ Exchange House in Hatton Garden, London. Here his primary business was the establishment of life insurance and fire insurance schemes; many of these failed, but one of the fire insurance schemes, the Sun Fire Office, was very successful and survived long after Povey.
From The Biographical Dictionary of British Economists in Oxford Reference.