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Chartered accountants in England and Wales- a guide to historical records

Chartered accountants in England and Wales- a guide to historical records is an essential work for anyone interested in tracing the history of accounting firms and the profession in England And Wales.

The book is based around a survey of the archives of accounting archives conducted by the ICAEW in 1991 and 1992. The results of the survey are published alongside two introductory essays by respected academics in the field.


The origins and evolution of the accountancy profession

An introductory essay by Peter Boys (63 pages) which provides the background to the development of the accountancy profession and of firms of chartered accountants. Three appendices are included at the end of the chapter:

  • Bibliography of histories of professional accountancy bodies in the British Isles.
  • Bibliography of histories of accountancy firms in the British Isles.
  • Founder firms.

The third appendix provides some clarification on the term 'founder firm' and a list of 75 founder firms (including firms descended from the first council members and firms over 100 years old in 1965) compiled from the information available at this time. The author notes that further information may come to light which may refute or add to the list.

Accountants' archives: their nature and use

An essay by by Peter Boys and Wendy Habgood which provides a helpful overview of the types of documents that may be held by firms and the information these can provide, although the authors note the low survival rate of accountants' records.

The accounting archives survey

Firms of chartered accountants: list of records

The ICAEW conducted an archive survey of member firms in 1991-1992 with the intention of locating and listing the archives (records out of business use) of a selection of member firms practising in England and Wales. The survey published included entries for 182 firms, with each entry providing a brief history, details of surviving records records and the location of the records at the time of publication.

The ICAEW and its constituent bodies: lists of records

The survey also provided details of the holdings of the ICAEW and its constituent bodies (Liverpool Society of Chartered Accountants, Institute of Accountants, Manchester Society of Chartered Accountants, Sheffield & District Society of Chartered Accountants, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, Society of Incorporated Accountants).

How to view a copy of the guide

The ICAEW Library & Information Service holds three copies of the guide within the collection. One copy is always available to consult as part of the reference collection, whilst the remaining two copies are available to borrow. If you wish to borrow the book please contact the enquiry team on +44 (0)20 7920 8620.

Copies of the guide can also be purchased from the ICAEW Library & Information Service - to find out how you can order a copy please view our list of accounting history publications for sale.


Since the publication of Chartered accountants in England and Wales- a guide to historical records in 1994 the ICAEW Library & Information Service has received information on the location of records for firms not included in the original survey, revisions from the original contributors and information on holdings in record offices. The additional information/updates can be accessed through the links below:

If any other firms wish to contribute revised entries or information on the records that they hold please contact the Library & Information Service.

Birmingham: Archives and Heritage Service

  • KPMG Peat Marwick, chartered accountants - 19th-20th cent: records of predecessor firms in Birmingham (MS 1732). Source: Business Archives, No. 68 (November 1994)

Guildhall Library

  • Bagshaw & Co, chartered accountants, London - records 1854-1989. Source: Business Archives, No. 68 (November 1994)
  • Edward Moore & Sons, chartered accountants, London - records 1866-1985. Source: Business Archives, No. 68 (November 1994)
  • Thomas McLintock & Co, chartered accountants, London - records 1927-1987. Source: Business Archives, No. 68 (November 1994)

Robert Miller Tate

  • The Robert Miller Tate name has now changed to RMT and the firm has moved to Gosforth Park Avenue, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE12 8EG. Source: W. S. Tate FCA.

Surrey History Centre

  • W. Bagshaw, chartered accountant, Epsom: papers including some relating to clients 1873-1915 (Acc 6134). Source: Business Archives, No. 68 (November 1994)
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Historical Accounting Literature

The ICAEW collection of historical accounting literature currently comprises over 4,000 volumes and includes works published from the 15th century to the early 20th century. The collection includes books and journals in a variety of languages.