History of Auditing - Early Auditors in Scotland, England, and Italy

History of Accounting > History of Auditing > Early Auditors in Scotland, England, and Italy

Auditing in Scotland
In Scotland, the accounts of the Exchequer officials who collected and disbursed the Crown revenue, including those of the Chamberlain, were audited in Exchequer, usually every year, by certain Lords Auditors appointed by the Crown to hear the accounts and grant acquittance thereon. The audit was by no means a formality. Charges were frequently disallowed for reasons which are explained, as being insufficiently vouched, &c. Thus, of the sum of £640 charged in the Chamberlain’s accounts of 1337 and 1340 for stores for Lochleven, £60 was disallowed, after the vouchers had been called for, as having been already charged in a previous account.

Audit in England and Italy
The thirteenth century supplies us with references to auditors and auditing both in Italy and in England. Early in the century we find an auditor employed to revise (or audit) the account books of the commune of Pisa.

The English Statute 13 Edward I. c. 11 (a.d. 1285),
” Concerning servants, bailliffs, Chamberlains, and all manner of Receivers, which are bound to yield Accompt,” provides “That when the Masters of such Servants do assign Auditors (auditores) to take their Accompt, and they be found in arrearages upon the Accompt, all Things allowed which ought to be allowed, their Bodies shall be arrested, and by the Testimony of the Auditors of the same Accompt, shall be sent or delivered unto the next Gaol of the King’s in those Parts . . .”

In the thirteenth century too, as we have seen, the accounts of landed estates were carefully audited. A thirteenth century treatise on estate-management in French, named Scneschaude, by an unknown author, recommends that the lord of the manor ought to command that the accounts be heard every year at each manor. The auditors ought to be faithful and prudent, knowing their business. The seneschal ought to be joined with the auditors, but subordinate as having to answer to the auditors on the account for his doings, just as another.

” It is not necessary,” continues the author of the treatise, ” so to speak to the auditors (acunturs) about making audit because of their office, for they ought to be so prudent, and so faithful, and so knowing in their business, that they have no need of other teaching about things connected with the account.”

The accounts of the executors of the will of Eleanor, Consort of Edward I., who died in 1290, appear to have been audited, the word probatur being written in many instances after the total expenditure for a stated period. And in these accounts also, we find the entry: In expensis auditorum compotorum de terns Regince, senescallorum et balUvorum, post mortem Regince, apud Londoniam.

Audit Records of London
The records of the City of London show that the accounts of the Chamberlain were audited in the time of Edward I., though when the audit was first instituted we do not know. In 1298 the Mayor, Aldermen, Sheriffs, and certain others were appointed auditors ; and a little later—in 1310— ” Six good men of the City were elected in the presence of the whole Commonalty.” In 1311 in the list of officials elected officers of the City we find a ” Comptroller against (versus) the Chamberlain,” as well as a number of auditors, ” to audit and determine the accounts of divers Chamberlains and other officers of the Commonalty for the time past.”

Audit Records of Dublin
The following extract from the records of the City of Dublin, of the year 1316, shows that accounts were audited in Ireland at that time. ” Tallages (i.e. taxes) and imposts to be collected under supervision of four or six good men duly sworn, and accounts to be rendered of receipts and payments before the commonalty or their auditors.” This is also shown by a charter granted by Edward III. to the borough of Kinsale, dated 7th January 1333, in which it is stated : ” The Corporation to have the custom of all customable goods to go to the repair of their walls, a proper Account thereof to be rendered yearly before two burgesses, or before the Earl of Desmond. In 1456, the appointment of auditors of the accounts of the city of Dublin is thus recorded—

That hyt was ordenyt and estabelyt, the ferd Fryday next aftyr the fest of Synt Michell the Archangell, the yer of King Henry the Syxt, the XXXV. (1456), by autoryte of the sayd semble that ther schold be from that tym forward two Audytores assignet upon the tresowrerys saud cytte, to hyr har acownt yerly, thar ys to sayn, as for thys yer Thomas Barby and Arlanton Usher.

From the fourteenth century onwards we have ample evidence that the advisability of having accounts audited was widely recognised. In England the decisive share of the Commons in the bestowal of money grants had become since the reign of Edward III. an admitted principle. ” The rule of insisting on a proper audit of accounts was a corollary from the practice of appropriating the supplies to particular purposes. It was one which was scarcely worth contesting. In 1406 the Commons, who objected to making a grant until the accounts of the last grant were audited, were told by Henry that ” kings do not render accounts;” but the boast was a vain one; the accounts were in 1407 laid before the Commons without being asked for; and the victory so secured was never again formally contested.” *

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