1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ledger
LEDGER (from the English dialect forms liggen or leggen, to lie or lay; in sense adapted from the Dutch substantive legger), properly a book remaining regularly in one place, and so used of the copies of the Scriptures and service books kept in a church. The New English Dictionary quotes from Charles Wriothesley’s Chronicle, 1538 (ed. Camden Soc., 1875, by W. D. Hamilton), “the curates should provide a booke of the bible in Englishe, of the largest volume, to be a lidger in the same church for the parishioners to read on.” It is an application of this original meaning that is found in the commercial usage of the term for the principal book of account in a business house (see Book-Keeping). Apart from these applications to various forms of books, the word is used of the horizontal timbers in a scaffold (q.v.) lying parallel to the face of a building, which support the “put logs”; of a flat stone to cover a grave; and of a stationary form of tackle and bait in angling. In the form “lieger” the term was formerly frequently applied to a “resident,” as distinguished from an “extraordinary” ambassador.