The records of a voyage from London to Bordeaux during 1486–87 are reviewed. The voyage was the first of a regular pattern of trading voyages conducted on behalf of the Cely family who traded English wheat and wool for Bordeaux wine. This family were fifteenth century London merchants whose accounts and other papers are held by the London Public Record Office. Secondary sources are used to show that by the late fifteenth century many English merchants were attracted to overseas trade, which despite considerable risks, offered the prospect of a good return.

The paper illustrates some features of medieval accounting, especially the problem of accountability and control, when direct oversight was not possible. The expansion of English shipping and overseas trade was accompanied by the development of written records and the replacement of oral systems of accountability common in feudal England.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.