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Follow our timeline to explore the development of the accountancy profession in the United Kingdom and the course of events that led to the creation of ICAEW, a story that takes us from ancient times to the present day.

Our journey takes us through the crucial developments in the first half of the nineteenth century (when accountancy starts to take form as an organised profession growing primarily as a result of the commercial and legal activity of bankruptcy, insolvency and the winding up of companies) and takes us all the way to the present.

4000 B.C. - 1852  
The beginning. Early printed works. Introduction of double-entry book-keeping to the UK. The first accountancy firm is established in Bristol.

1853 - 1880  
The founder bodies and local societies emerge. Accountancy takes form as an organised profession. Early Legislation. A Royal Charter is granted.

1881 - 1913  
Early organisation of the ICAEW. Setting the standards of professional conduct. Chartered Accountant's Hall is built. The question of the admission of women is raised.

1914 - 1938  
First World War. The first women are admitted to the profession. Chartered Accountant's Hall is extended. 50th Anniversary of the ICAEW. The question of registration. The Royal Mail Fraud Trial.

1939 - 1967  
Second World War. Courses for returning servicemen. Non-practising members gain influence within the Institute. The first Member's Handbook is published. Chartered Accountant's Hall is extended.

1968 - 2003  
Attempts to restructure the profession. Co-operation between accountancy bodies is established. ICAEW Centenary. Enron and the collapse of US Andersen. Adoption of International Accounting Standards.

This timeline has primarily focused on the CCAB bodies/recognised qualifying bodies but there have been a number of other bodies in existence during the period covered. You can trace the development of these bodies through the Index of UK and Irish Accountancy and Professional Bodies.

To suggest additions or improvements to the timeline please contact the Library & Information Service at library@icaew.com.