Bristows Tragedy or

The Death of Sr Charles Bawdin

Written 1768 - Published 1772

Age: 15, Colston's School

One of Chatterton's

Most Famous Works.

Written when he was not quite 16! 

A Bit of a Conundrum!

There is no doubt that the Bristowe Tragedie or the Death of Sr Charles Bawdin was written by Chatterton. 

The challenge here features two early Mss:

  • Is C53-21 (below) in the handwriting of Chatterton? If not Chatterton's writing then who is the scribe?


  • Which of the two versions is the earliest composition? Take a good look at the two manuscripts, which is the original work, as written by Thomas Chatterton; Is it C53-21, the Bristol Library Ms., or is it C53-22, the mysterious Perceval transcript of the missing Ms?

  • The above could be resolved if we were fortunate enough to find the missing 'Perceval' notebook.

Click the images to view the manuscripts:

A bristows tragedy SNIP.jpg

C53-21: Bristows Tragedy - Chatterton's Manuscript?

Bristol library owns and lists the B20928 manuscript as in Chatterton's own writing. Meyerstein agrees that it is in Chatterton's hand. However, Taylor is sure that it is copied by an unknown scribe, from an unknown original by Chatterton - perhaps the copy in the mysteriously, missing, Perceval notebook. 

Perceval 20.jpg

C53-22: Perceval Transcript: (Copied from Chatterton Ms?)

The Missing 'Perceval' Notebook: Perceval wrote about his discovery of this Ms. in the Bristol Times and Mirror in 1904, but it hasn't been seen since (unless you know better, and why wouldn't you!). Taylor seems to think that this is the original.

A1 catcott execution charles bawdin MS b5343-44 (20).jpg

C53-23: Catcott Transcript - B5344

No link via this image yet, I am working on it today 7/7/2021

A p91 Fry Ms b6493 SNIP.jpg

C53-24: Dr Fry's Transcript - B6493

execution charles bawdin snip.jpg

C53-25: Bristol School of Printing 1932

There is more to add here when time allows - in the meantime, click the images above to view a manuscript / edition.

Or click here to see the Master Menu for Bristowe Tragedie.

In late 2021, I hope to upload a copy of the famous edition printed in 1772. It is one of the earliest printings of one of Chatterton's works in book form.