The Accounting Historians Journal
Vol. 13, No. 2
John Freear UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
AN ACCOUNTANT IN THE BOLIVIAN JUNGLE
Abstract: In January, 1900, Henry I'Anson applied, successfully, for the position of accountant at a rubber plantation in Bolivia. He and his Wife journeyed there by steamship, steam launch, and canoe, to find a less than hospitable welcome. I'Anson's professionalism was offended by the condition of the plantation's ac-counts, and he was disconcerted by the prices he was charged for food. He com-plained, was insulted, threatened, and, finally, he and his wife were obliged to re-turn to England. There, he found that he had been dismissed. This article is based wholly on his undated statement made in connection with a lawsuit he took out against his former employers.
Henry I'Anson's Bolivian adventure began in London in January, 1900, when he read an advertisement in the Daily Telegraph. A Bolivian rubber-producing firm sought an accountant "with a good knowledge of South America" to replace the existing accountant at their principal rubber plantation at Cachuela Esperanza,1 De-partment of Beni, Bolivia. What follows is taken from an undated statement (presumed to have been made in early 1901) by Henry I'Anson in pursuit of a claim for damages against that firm, Suarez & Co. All the quotations in this article are taken from I'Anson's statement, which came to light amongst the personal effects of one of his descendants, some eight decades after the events de-scribed here had occurred.
The narrative is incomplete, as I do not have the defendants' statement, nor have I been able to discover the final outcome of the suit. Yet, in Henry I'Anson's statement, expressed in matter-of-fact language, we do have an unusual, and first-hand, account of the intrepidity of a late Victorian accountant and his wife, in the face of disappointment, discomfort, disease and financial distress.
In January 1900, Henry I'Anson visited the London offices of Suarez & Co., which had advertised for an accountant, to seek