The archives of medieval and early modern institutions include examples of simple business records relating to the day-to-day dealings of merchants, shippers and financial middlemen. In addition the many guilds and companies in commercial centres throughout Britain at this time were usually careful about maintaining their records.
The emergence of joint-stock companies in the eighteenth century, including insurance and banking institutions, produced some of the longest-established business archives in Britain.
From the 1830s the formal collecting of business records became a feature of joint-stock companies, including those engaged in transport, including shipping and railways. By the 19th century some British firms were keeping their records with a view to posterity, especially the long-established family firms
Right: A page from the Share Certificate Book of The Bursledon Bridge Company, covering the period 1815-1931. Each page has a decorative header showing the bridge as it was around 1815 spanning the River Hamble. Ref 52M48/13