IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Writing masters and accountants in England – a study of occupation, status and ambition in the early modern period


  • John Richard Edwards

    (The accounting and business history research group - Cardiff University)


The purpose of this paper is to address the lack of knowledge of the accounting occupational group in England prior to the formation of professional accounting bodies. It does so by focusing on attempts made by the occupational group of writing masters and accountants to establish a recognisable persona in the public domain, in England, during the seventeenth and eighteenth century, and to enhance that identity by behaving in a manner designed to convince the public of the professionalism associated with themselves and their work. The study is based principally on early accounting treatises and secondary sources drawn from beyond the accounting literature. Notions of identity, credentialism and jurisdiction are employed to help understand and evaluate the occupational history of writing masters and accountants. It is shown that writing masters and accountants emerged as specialist pedagogues providing expert business knowledge required in the counting houses of entities which flourished during a period of rapid commercial expansion in mercantilist Britain. Their demise as an occupational group may be attributed to a range of factors amongst which an emphasis on personal identity, the neglect of group identity and derogation of the writing craft were most important.

Suggested Citation

  • John Richard Edwards, 2010. "Writing masters and accountants in England – a study of occupation, status and ambition in the early modern period," Post-Print halshs-00465852, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00465852
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server:

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    history; accountants; bookkeepers;

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00465852. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (CCSD). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.