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4000 B.C.-1852

A timeline of the development of the accountancy profession in the United Kingdom. This page covers developments between 4000 B.C. to 1852, including the introduction of double-entry book-keeping to the UK and the establishment of the first accountancy firm.

Circa
4000 B.C.
The income of temples is recorded in lower Mesopotamia.
Circa
1300 A.D.
Accountants are mentioned in historical records for the first time in the Statute of Westminster indicating they are considered important.
Circa
1327 A.D.
Early books from the commune of Genoa display an early form of bookkeeping.
Circa
1400 A.D.
The Italian trading period sees sophisticated accounting systems developed within banking houses. Double-entry bookkeeping is discovered.
1494 Luca Pacioli describes double-entry bookkeeping in his work Summa di Arithmetica, printed in Venice.
1543 Jan Ympyn Christoffels' work on the Venetian system of accounts entitled Nieuwe Instructie ende dewijs der looffelijcker consten des rekenboecks is printed in Antwerp.
1543 An English work by Hugh Oldcastle with the title A Profitable Treatyce called the Instrument or Boke to learn to know the good order of the keepying of the famouse reconynge called in Latyn, Dare and Habdare, and in English, Debitor and Creditor is printed in London.
1547 An English translation of Jan Ympyn Christoffels' work entitled A Notable and very excellente woorke, expressyng and declaryng the maner and forme how to kepe a boke of accomptes or reconynges...Translated..out of Frenche into Englishe is printed in Antwerp.
1553 The third book in English on double-entry bookkeeping entitled The Maner and fourme how to kepe a perfecte reconyng, after the order of...debitour and creditour by James Peele is printed in London by the King's Printer, Richard Grafton. Grafton is credited by historians for introducing double-entry book-keeping to England.
1567 A Breffe Instruction, and manner on howe to kepe, Merchants Bokes, of Accomptes, by John Weddington, is printed in Antwerp.
1588 Hugh Oldcastle's book is reproduced by John Mellis of Southwark in his work A Briefe Instruction and maner how to keepe bookes of accompts after the order of debitor and creditor. Such was the popularity of the Profitable Treatyce that it had been used by teachers until it fell to pieces and no other original copy remained.
1635 Another English work called The Merchants' Mirror: or Directions for the perfect ordering and keeping of accounts, framed by the way of Debitour and Creditour after the Italian manner, by Richard Dafforne, is printed.
1683 The first Scottish book on accountancy entitled Idea Rationaria, or the perfect accomptant, necessary for all merchants and trafficquers: containing the true forme of book-keeping, according to the Italian methode, by Robert Colinson, is printed in Edinburgh.
1780 Josiah Wade founds 'Tribe Clarke and Company' Accountancy firm in Bristol. Work mainly consists of auditing merchants' accounts. Josiah Wade is the oldest firm to trace its continuous existence.
1793 Published information records two 'accomptants' working in Bristol and another situated in Liverpool.
1831 A Bankruptcy Act is passed mentioning accountants alongside merchants and bankers as properly skilled to conduct audits. It is the first public recognition of accountants.
1842 The Relief of Insolvent Debtors Act creates a new source of labour for accountants as it requires debtors owing less than £300 to attach a statement of debts when petitioning the Bankruptcy Court.
Next section: 1853 - 1880