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Lookup NU author(s): Professor David McCollum-Oldroyd, Alisdair Dobie


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The chapter analyses key themes in the history of bookkeeping within a broadly chronological arrangement, starting with Classical Greece and Rome and continuing with sections on the Roman legacy, manorial accounting, mercantile accounting, early industry and the Victorian expansion during the nineteenth century. A major aim of the chapter is to embed developments in bookkeeping practices within their social and economic contexts. Tracking rights and obligations, holding agents accountable, conveying information at a distance, dealing with complexity, and acting as a legal record are identified as the recurrent functions of bookkeeping throughout its history. Changes in practice were prompted by a diverse range of factors including economic opportunity, political and religious pressure, educational developments, and the influence of significant individuals. The history of bookkeeping is huge and, to give the chapter focus, the modus operandi is to concentrate mainly on Western Europe with particular reference to Italy and the British Isles. Italian practice is particularly significant because of the dual legacy of the Classical world and the Renaissance. Britain too is important because of the links forged through trade and colonization, and especially its close connections with North America. Key debates within the history of bookkeeping are explored, including the origins of double-entry.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Oldroyd D, Dobie AJ

Editor(s): Edwards, JR; Walker, S

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Routledge Companion to Accounting History

Year: 2008

Pages: 95-119

Edition: 1st

Publisher: Routledge

Place Published: London

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9780415410946