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Accountancy Ancestors: Achievements, tragedy and disaster

The Accountancy Ancestors database includes many inspiring obituaries recording the lifetime achievements of a vast number of accountants, from sole practitioners to the founders of today's leading accountancy firms. At the same time, there are many tragic stories of lives cut short. On this page we have picked a selection of the obituaries to be found in the database, which we hope gives an indication of the life stories waiting to be uncovered.

Accountancy Ancestors

The Accountancy Ancestors database provides an index to obituaries, portraits and other resources held in the collection of the ICAEW Library & Information Service.

To request a copy of an entry from the index, please contact the enquiry desk:

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Sydney Edmund Busher (1953)

Sydney Edmund Busher became a member of the Society of Incorporated Accountants and Auditors in 1910 and emigrated to Sydney, Australia, shortly afterwards. Mr Busher later became managing director of the firm W. E. Smith, Ltd. The obituary in Accountancy (1953, 280) reported that Mr Busher had been a 'promising English county cricketer' and that he had twice bowled W. G. Grace in a single match.

Samuel Culley (1899).

Samuel Culley had, as The Accountant aptly described it, 'an adventurous and remarkable career'. In 1841 Samuel travelled out to New Zealand as a colonist but was forced to return to England for family reasons. Mr Culley made the voyage home from Auckland as second mate on board an American whaler which had already endured one mutiny. It was to prove a far from easy passage home, including a three day storm and at point the whaler was almost shipwrecked. Mid-way through the voyage the Captain was said to have lost his reason and 'there was a renewed outbreak of the mutiny, which Mr. Culley at length repressed by seizing the ringleaders and putting them in irons' (Accountant 1899, p89). Samuel Culley was feted as a hero. Samuel Culley went on to become City Accountant in Norwich, a post he held from 1887 to 1898.

Nathaniel Dixon (1899).

One of the most poignant obituaries in the database is that of Nathaniel Dixon who died on Thursday March 30th 1899 whilst travelling with his daughter on the channel steamship Stella in the week before Easter. The Stella was travelling at full speed from Southampton to Guernsey through a fog that had settled on the channel when she hit the Casquets, a group of rocks near Alderney in the Channel Islands. The Stella disaster claimed the lives of 77 passengers and crew (out of 190 on board).

The Incorporated Accountants' Journal (May 1899, p157) tells us that 'After the ship had struck on the rocks and orders had been given to save the women and children, Mr. Dixon assisted his daughter to fasten on a life belt and saw her taken into one of the ship's boats, he himself remaining quietly on the ship until she went to her doom.'

Another accountant, Maurice Black, also died in the Stella Disaster and his obituary appears in The Accountant (1899, p407).

Gerard Van de Linde (1922).

Gerard Van de Linde entered the accountancy profession in 1875 and became a member of the ICAEW in 1880. Gerard 'endeared himself to the members of the profession by his constant willingness to read papers at Students' Societies throughout the country' (The Accountant 1922, p400) and he generously passed on all the profits from the printed book of his papers to CABA. At the time of his death, aged 83, Gerard Van de Linde was regarded as one of the most respected members of the profession. In 1917 Gerard published a volume of his Reminiscences.

Tragically, Gerard Van de Linde lived to see two sons die before him. Gerard Casper Van de Linde died of typhoid at the age of 25 (The Accountant 1889, p590) and Sidney Cooper Van de Linde died at the age of 26 after falling from a fifth floor window at the Hotel Metropole, Brighton (The Accountant 1896, p274).

A short biographical note on Gerrit Van de Linde, the father of Gerard Van de Linde, was reproduced from 'The Echo' in The Accountant (1895, p747).

M. C. McEwan (1899).

M. C. McEwan was admitted to the Edinburgh Society of Accountants in 1888. M. C. McEwan had been 'one of the leading rugby players in Scotland' (The Accountant 1899, p460) and represented his country from 1886 to 1892. In 1891 he captained the Scottish team to victory over England at Richmond by three goals to one.