The episode narrated in this paper is situated in late-Victorian Britain when leading chartered accountants, Frederick Whinney and Edwin Waterhouse, were engaged by a British parliamentary committee to examine the costing and accountability practices of the government's military manufacturing establishments (GMMEs). The contributions of this study to accounting's historiography are two-fold. First, the significance of Whinney and Waterhouse's appointment for the status of chartered accountants in late-Victorian Britain is assessed. Second, Whinney and Waterhouse's criticisms of existing accounting routines are examined and evaluated as is the impact of their findings on the subsequent course of accounting practices within GMMEs.

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