Making a cast-iron case: accountants and the Carron lawsuits of the 1850s and 1860s

Sam McKinstry, Kirsten Wallace, Andrew Fleming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The study which follows sheds light on a little-researched area of accounting history: the court work of accountants in the nineteenth century. It takes as its focus a major series of cases enacted over the 1850s and 1860s in both the English and Scottish courts and concerning the world famous Carron Company of Falkirk, Scotland, ironfounders. Prominent Scots and English accountants were employed to investigate the affairs of the company over a long period of time, providing evidence for various lawsuits involving questions of fraud, the falsification of accounts and the purchase of shares by the company at an undervalue. The paper highlights the standing of the main accountants involved, Henry Chatteris and William Quilter, and details the work they did, setting it in the context of Scots and English court procedures. It draws attention to the fact that such work could account for a substantial share of an accountancy practice’s income, as earlier studies have suggested, and further destabilises the still persistent notion that modern accountancy was founded on bankruptcy and audit work alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-57
Number of pages22
JournalAccounting History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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