A rum deal: the purser’s measure and accounting control of materials in the Royal Navy, 1665–1832

Karen Mcbride, Tony Hines, Russell Craig

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    Abstract

    We draw on archival resources and maritime and accounting history literature to explore the role of Royal Navy pursers between 1665 and 1832. Through an agency theory lens, we investigate accounting-related practices pursers used to control consumable rations, including the ‘Purser’s [short] measure.’ The records pursers were required to keep suggest that the Royal Navy was at the forefront of the development of cost and materials accounting, and in the keeping of detailed accounting records. We provide fresh insights to the purser’s role and his association with the gestation of materials waste controls, standard costing, and audit and accountability processes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)925-946
    JournalBusiness History
    Volume58
    Issue number6
    Early online date2 Mar 2016
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016

    Keywords

    • accounting
    • auditing
    • costing
    • standard
    • measure
    • purser
    • Royal Navy
    • history

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