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'A different army of the talented': negative outliers in the rise of professionalism in Victorian public accountancy

Thomas A Lee

Accounting History Review, 2015, vol. 25, issue 2, 77-95

Abstract: This paper studies two gentlemen-professionals as negative outliers in Victorian public accountancy to provide an alternative perspective on late nineteenth-century practitioners. The gentlemen-professionals are London chartered accountants James and William Waddell who fled to New York in 1883 when new bankruptcy legislation exposed their embezzlement of creditor funds. As gentlemen-professionals anxious to demonstrate their social class and status, the brothers are studied in insolvency practice in London and as expert accountants in New York despite local knowledge of their prior misbehaviour. The paper concludes social class and status provide a useful research lens with which to study Victorian public accountants.

Date: 2015
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