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Practising accountants listed in London trade directories published before 1840

This study of practising accountants listed in London trade directories published before 1840, by Peter Boys, is of particular significance to our understanding of the number of accountants practising in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in London. It is reproduced here by kind permission of the author.

This study is concerned with practising accountants, that is individuals who are either in practice on their own or in partnership with others and who offer their services to the public at large rather than to a single employer. It presents the results of the first detailed and systematic search for accountants in London trade directories published before 1840. This source material is used to determine the pattern of growth in the number of accountants and to compare the content of the different series of directories. Further analysis of the data establishes the length of time an individual or firm continued to be listed in directories. Finally, the genealogy of those practices which were long-lived is considered in more detail.

Peter Boys has kindly given the ICAEW Library & Information Service permission to make this study available on this website.


  • Introduction
  • London in the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century
  • Previous studies referring to accountants listed in trade directories
  • London trade directories published before 1840
  • Data collection and results
  • Long-lived London accountancy practices
  • Summary and conclusion
  • References

Appendix A

  • Accountants listed in eighteenth-century London trade directories not covered by tables 1 to 4

Appendix B

Accountants listed in London trade directories, 1800-1839

  • Explanatory notes
  • Post office London directories, 1800-1839
  • Kent's London directories, 1800-1828
  • Holden's London directories, 1800-1822
  • Boyle's London directories, 1802-1804
  • Johnstone's London directories, 1817-1818
  • Robson's London directories, 1819-1839
  • Pigot's London directories, 1822-1839


Published on this website in August 2011.

About the author

Peter Boys BA FCA graduated from the University of Kent at Canterbury with a first-class honours degree in Accounting. He spent five years with Touche Ross & Co. before becoming a lecturer in accounting at his former University. In 1990 he wrote Chartered Accountants' Hall - the first hundred years. Peter Boys retired in 1999. He has contributed numerous articles to Accountancy, and is especially interested in the history of the accountancy profession. Further articles and books by Peter Boys are available in the collection.

In 2003 Peter Boys first brought his work to an online audience with What's in a name: Firms' simplified family trees on the web, a popular update to his series of highly praised family trees showing the development of the big accountancy firms of the day.

Following on from the success of this online venture, Peter Boy's intriguing article "The mystery of the missing members: the first 600 Chartered Accountants in England and Wales" was reproduced on the Institute's Accounting History website in early 2004.