The Thomas Chatterton Manuscript Project 

The Gathering Starts Here

Canynges Coffer

Gateway to Chattertonian Manuscripts


This page follows Chatterton's short life.

It Shows the Flow of his Works from One Iconic Moment to the Next

Imagine How he Feels as he Strives to Make his Way in Bristol

Read his Personal Correspondence and his Poetry and Prose

 Watch as he Creates and Populates a Medieval World 

Join him on his Fateful Trip to Shoreditch

And Witness his Demise in a Rough Garret in Brooke Street.


Panel C1

The Chatterton Family Bible

First Sample of Chatterton's Handwriting? 

New facts William George.JPG
Protective Box Chatterton Bible
jonah 1.JPG

The rediscovery, in 1881, of this strangely dilapidated old bible, created much excitement at the time.  It was claimed to be the original Chatterton family bible complete with handwritten details of the Chatterton family. 


It went on to create a bit of a spat, handbags at dawn, you might say, played out in various editions of a magazine of the day, The Athanaeum, between John Taylor,  the Bristol librarian & author, and John Ingram, author of The Life of Thomas Chatterton


Their letters for and against the genuineness of the bible were also published in 1883, by William George, a Bristol book dealer, in a booklet, New Facts Relating to The Chatterton Family.  William George's family donated the bible to the library in 1900.

The bible in question is Laurence Clarke's, A Compleat History of the Holy Bible, which ran to at least three editions, 1737, 1739, 1740. It is assumed that the Chatterton bible, which is missing some pages, including the title page and some of the engraved plates, is the 1737 edition - but is it?

One task is to determine the edition, the other is to determine who made the entries in the bible; it seems clear that there was more than one writer. The obvious contenders are Chatterton's father, Thomas; his mother, Sarah; his sister, Mary; perhaps even his Grandmother (we don't know her name); and of course young Thomas himself - so, does this bible contain the earliest sample of Thomas's handwriting?...Click the green button to read more and see the handwritten entries in the bible.

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)

Panel C2

Iconic Moment No. 1 

 'Paint me an Angel with a Trumpet to Blow my Name About'

Age: 5, Master's House, Pile Street

Heads Up!  The Iconic Moments I have chosen are based on events that may have shaped Chatterton's short life.


The painting above depicts the 'Paint me an Angel with a Trumpet' anecdote, which Chatterton's sister related to Dr Michael Lort in October 1784. The painting was completed 75 years after the anecdote first appeared in The Pubic Advertiser, 8th June, 1772 (I need a copy of this edition). Chatterton looks older than 5 years of age in the painting - a little poetic licence never hurt anyone, I guess!


The artist, W. J. Montaigne, completed the painting in 1847, he also, apparently, painted more than one copy of the original, which seems to be the norm. Henrietta Ward did the same with her 'Chatterton' painting, and Henry Wallis, would knock off a copy of his painting 'The Death of Chatterton' whenever he needed to pay the rent.

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)


Panel C3

'Portraits' of Chatterton  

Engravings - Paintings - Sketches - Descriptions

Thomas Chatterton 1797 Goggle Eyes
Supposed Image of Thomas Chatterton Christie's

Lookie here now; although there are no known authentic paintings or engravings of Chatterton, we do have a handy description of him by William Seward, which we can use to help us decide on the image that best matches the description.


There are many fanciful representations of Chatterton to choose from; I show three in this panel. Click the button to discover more on this fascinating subject, including William Seward's description of Chatterton.

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - Working here boss! (.Q.)


Panel C4

Iconic Moment No. 2   

Expelled from School for Being too Dull to Learn

Age: 5, Master's House & School, Pile Street

chatt house 11.jpg

Master's House, Pile Street

phippen-pile-street1 (2).jpg

School & House

Chattertons Birthplace Pile St JHI  a cr

School, Pile Street

Chatterton's father was master of Pile Street School and only 38 years of age when he died suddenly on the 7th August in 1752. His  21 year old widow, Sarah, faced an uncertain future. She was six months into her pregnancy with her son Thomas, our poet, and had already given birth twice; their first child, Mary, was born on St Valentine's Day, 14th February, 1749. Their second child, Giles Malpas, was born on 12th December, 1750, but died 4 months and 4 days later, on April 16, 1751.  

It must have been a truly frightening and stressful time for Sarah, as she also stood to lose the house she lived in. Fortunately, a little luck came her way, as the new master of Pile Street School, Mr Chard, was not a family man and chose to remain living in his own house, rather than the schoolhouse.  However, he retired in 1757 and was succeeded by Mr Love, who needed the house for his own family. 


Mr Love was a family man and, shortly after taking over, added to Sarah's woes by expelling Chatterton for being too dull to learn.  Sarah was left with two children to home-school and provide for, so it must have been a real blessing when, three years later, Colston's Hospital School accepted Chatterton as a pupil, complete with a built-in apprenticeship.

It seems that the Chatterton family lived in the schoolhouse from 1749 to 1757, and then moved to a house by the upper gate of St Mary Redcliffe.  It would be nice if we could discover exactly where the Chatterton family lived after leaving Pile Street. I remember reading that James Ross, City Librarian in the 1940s, made some discoveries regarding this and will put them here soon.

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - Working on this! (.Q.)


Panel C5

Iconic Moment No. 3   

Colston's Hospital School - Delight and Disappointment

Age: 7-14 years, Colston's School

Colston School The Great House cropped.j

Colston's Great House, on St Augustine's Back in Bristol, was the rather imposing building used as the school.


Chatterton was well into the eighth year of his short life and must have been full of enthusiasm when, on the 3rd of August 1760, he started his first day at the school. However, his enthusiasm was cut short when he discovered that the education offered was basic in the extreme; he once exclaimed that he could learn more at home from books - I know that feeling!

He also found that the freedom he was used to was gone the moment he stepped into the building.

There are no known Chatterton works before he attended Colston's Hospital School and, according to Donald S. Taylor, Chatterton, in his nearly 7 years at Colston's, wrote only three 'authentic' works.

Chatterton's Works while at Colston's:

   3 August 1760 to 30 June 1767.

Twenty-two works to consider during his 6 years & 11 months at Colston's

I have selected four works* to show in their own panels below:

In any case all of the works can be viewed by clicking the link [...example].

Three Authentic Works:

*Apostate Will [...C5-1]

*Sly Dick [...C5-2]

*A Hymn for Christmas All Authentic Works Day [...C5-2]

All Authentic Works [...C5-2]

Works of Doubtful Authenticity (woda)

*On the Last Epiphany  [...C5-3]

The Churchwarden and the Apparition [...woda]

I've let my Yard, and sold my Clay [...woda]

Letter from Fullford, the Grave-digger [...woda]

Custom. A Satire [...woda]

Lost Works (LOW):

Paraphrases of Job ix and Isaiah; 

Satiric Lines on a Schoolmaster [...Low]

Works Wrongly Attributed to Chatterton (wwac)

Twelve pieces to view [...wwac]

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - Working on this! (.Q.)

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)


Panel C5-1

Apostate Will 

  Written 1764 - Published 1780

Age: 11-12, Colston's School

Appostate Will Catcott B5342.jpg
Apostte Will Croft 1.jpg

Apostate Will is one of Chatterton's earliest works.

Written in 1764 but not published until 1780, when Herbert Croft included it in his book Love and Madness. According to Croft, the original Chatterton manuscript was in the possession of Sarah Chatterton, the poet's mother.  The Croft transcript of Apostate Will is preferred by Taylor.

The original Chatterton manuscript is missing? 


In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)

Panel C5-2

Sly Dick & A Hymn for Christmas Day     

Written 1764 - Published 1803

Age: 12, Colston's School

a Hymn for Christm day a.jpg

Both the above, written in 1764, are taken  from the three volume 1803, edition of Chatterton's works.

We await copies of the originals from Houghton Harvard Library who own the manuscripts.


In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)

Panel C5-3

Iconic Moment  No. 4   

On The Last Epiphany (WODA)

Chatterton's First Time in Print

Age: 10, Colston's School

Epiphany 5 small.JPG
last epiphany 2b.JPG
Epiphany 2a.JPG

We have to make do with the first printing of On the last Epiphany, or CHRIST coming to JUDGEMENT, because no manuscript is known to exist. It was printed in Felix Farley's Bristol Journal, on the 8th January 1763, when Chatterton was just 10 years old.

It was first claimed as Chatterton's work by William Tyson in 1837, and is accepted as such by Meyerstein.

It is listed in 'Works of Doubtful Authenticity' by Donald S. Taylor.

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)


Panel C6

Iconic Moment  No. 5    

Confirmation in St Mary Redcliffe Church

 Age: 10, Colston's School

st mary Kator.jpg

Chatterton was baptised in St Mary Redcliffe church, on the 1st January, 1753, and Confirmed between 1762-4, by Bishop Thomas Newton, a man he was to come to despise. However, Mary, his sister, and Dr. Lort (B11457) both say that Chatterton was Confirmed when he was 12, in 1764.

Taylor argues that if Chatterton was Confirmed in 1764 then 'On the Last Epiphany' is not by Chatterton.  However, Meyerstein seems convinced that it is Chatterton's work. 

According to Mary, his sister, Chatterton "was more cheerful after he began to write poetry," when he was about 10 years old.

The engraving, by Toms, shows the church as Chatterton would have seen it; it had lost its spire in 1446 after being struck by lightning. The engraving is said to have hung in the house of the Kator family. Mr Kator was a confectioner, and his son, John (or is it Henry? Chatterton writes to Henry Kator, and I suppose he is more likely to write to the son than the father), was a friend of Chatterton's. 

It is suggested, quite reasonably, that Chatterton would have seen this engraving hanging on the wall when he visited his friend's house, and would have been entranced by the image and by the historic detail of St Mary Redcliffe, thereby refuting the claim by Rowleyites that Chatterton could only have learned the history of the church from the manuscripts in the coffers in the Muniment Room.

The other image is from a postcard, it shows the church some years after the spire was rebuilt in 1872, a mere 426 years after it was destroyed.


See Panel C5-3 (above)  for On the Last Epiphany

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)


Panel C7

A Tall Tail & A Secret Message

Chatterton Creating his Rowley Manuscripts

Age: 10-15, Bristol


'The Secret Message'

morris holiday afternoon 1.JPG

'Chatterton's Holiday-Afternoon'

In this specific painting by Henrietta Ward, which is dated to 1873 and entitled 'The Secret Message,'  Chatterton is depicted in the attic room of the home the family moved to after they left the Master's House in Pile Street. There is also a version of the painting with distinct differences in Bristol's 'M' Shed museum, which Henrietta simply called 'Chatterton.'

The engraving is by William Ridgway from a painting by William Bright Morriss (1844-1896: Chatterton is depicted composing his Rowley works in the Muniment Room, above the North Porch, of St Mary Redcliffe Church.

Click the button to discover more about the images, the artists, and about the horrific story of the young boy Henrietta used as her model.  Please remember that a Green button is good to go, but a Red button means  'not ready yet'.

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)


Panel C8

Iconic Moment No 6 

 Apprentice Scrivener at Lambert's Office

3 July 1767 - 23 April 1770

Age: 14-17, Lambert's Office


Aprenticeship Indentures Thomas ChattertonJPG

Chatterton Apprenticeship Indentures 

Chatterton started his apprenticeship at Lambert's, as a Scrivener, on the 3rd July 1767. His indentures were cancelled two years and 10 months later, after Lambert found Chatterton's mock will on his desk.

Chatterton wrote the rest of his Bristol Works while at Lambert's

Chatterton's Works Between:

 3 July 1767  -  30 Sept 1768: 

This period covers Chatterton's first 18 months working as a Scrivener at Lambert's.

The works listed here were produced before October 1st 1768, the date the story of the Mayor First Passing Over the Old Bridge was published by Felix Farley's Bristol Journal. Shortly after publication Chatterton was introduced to George Catcott & William Barrett  -  now there was no going back; if only they knew that the Rowley saga was set to run for the next 250 years and beyond.

There are a total of 17 works to consider during this period.

Fourteen are authentic, two are lost works, and one is a work of doubtful authenticity.

The four most important authentic works* are shown in their own panels:


Authentic Works:

* Bristows Tragedy or the Death of Sr Charles Bawdin    [...C8-1

Antiquities Book 3rd - contains the three works shown below: 

*The Battle of Hastynges [...C8-2]

* Craishes Herauldry [...C8-2]

*The Unknown Knyght or The Tournament   [...C8-2]

All 14 Authentic Works for this period [...View]

Works of Doubtful Authenticity: One to view  [...View]

Lost Works:

Two works to view  [...View]

Chatterton's Works Between

1 October 1768  -   5 April 1769:

The six month period from the Bridge Narrative to the day before Walpole's Letter of  Rejection.


There are, arbitrarily, around 94 works to consider during this period.

A total of 87 are authentic, two are lost works, two are works of doubtful authenticity, and three are works wrongly attributed to Chatterton .

Eleven of the works* are shown in their own panels:

Authentic Works:

* The Mayor's first Passing over the Songe of St Werburgh Old Bridge [...C8-3]

* Songe of Saincte Werburgh 

* Songe of Sayncte Baldwyn

* To John Ladgate [...C8-4]

* Songe to Ella [...C8-4]

* John Ladgate's Answer [...C8-4]

* Battle of Hastings 2 [...C8-5]

* The Parlyamente of Sprytes [...C8-6]   

* Ǽlla: A Tragycal Enterlude, or Discoorseynge Tragedie [...C8-8]

Horace Walpole Correspondence [...C8-9]

All Authentic Works [...view] 


Works of Doubtful Authenticity (WODA): 

The Particulars of a Happy Government  [...WODA]

Extract of a Letter from a young Gentleman at Plymouth  [...WODA

Works Wrongly Attributed to Chatterton (according to Taylor): 

 * The Auction a Poem  [...C8-7]

Two other items [...view]

Lost Works: A full list of lost works  [...view]

Chatterton's Works Between: 

6 April 1769  -  23 April 1770.

A 13 month period from Walpole's Letter of  Rejection to Chatterton's Last Day in Bristol.


There are 23 works to consider during this period.

Authentic Works:

Horace Walpole Correspondence, two letters [...view]


Works of Doubtful Authenticity- A total of eight, five shown below:

A Card; On the Death of a Friend Mr Holland; Letter 1 from a Hunter of Oddities; Letter 2 from a Hunter of Oddities; Letter 3 from a Hunter of Oddities [...view]

Lost Works: 

A full list of lost works, five in this period [...view]


Wrongly Attributed to Chatterton:

Eight in this period [...view]

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)


Panel C8.1

 Bristows Tragedy or the Death of Sr Charles Bawdin

 Written 1768 - Published 1772

Age: 15, Colston's School

02 C Bristows Tragedy - page 1 SEGEMENT.

This is one of Chatterton's key works. It was written when he was not quite 16 years of age! 

Unfortunately the actual manuscript is very difficult to read, thanks to bleed through from the other side, so I have adjusted it to make it a little clearer. 


Click the button to see the original and an adjusted copy of the whole manuscript.

The experts agree that the work itself is Chatterton's - so no problem there.


What is in question is the handwriting. It is logged as Chatterton's by Bristol Reference Library, and  Meyerstein accepts it as such, but Taylor is sure that it is not!  A nice little conundrum for you to sort out. We do have do have it easy these days, now that we can compare as many documents as we wish, side by side.

Another thing to bear in mind, is that Chatterton was using a quill to write with. This, I imagine, will directly affect the handwriting and formation of letters, subject to the cut of the quill and the flow of the ink.

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)


Panel C8-2

Antiquities Book 3rd - Written 1768

Containing the following:

The Battle of Hastynges - Published 1777

Craishes Herauldry - Published 1971

The Unknown Knyght or The Tournament - Published 1784

IMG_8499 1B1.jpg
IMG_8499 1D1.jpg

The two images shown here are parts of the cover page of Antiquities - Book 3rd, by Chatterton. It contains three works; The Battle of Hastynges [No.1]; Craishes Herauldry; & The Unknown Knight or The Tournament.

Special Note and Heads Up!  If we want to show that we actually care about our heritage then this document is an example of one that needs immediate preservation! I would recommend that some of the lottery funds allocated to the Chatterton festivities, be used to start the preservation of the most fragile of Chatterton related documents.

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)


Panel C8-3

Iconic Moment No. 7 

'The Mayor's first Passing over the Old Bridge'

Age: 15, at Colston's School

George Symes Catcott

Thomas Chatterton

William Barrett Bristol museum.jpg

William Barrett

Publication of Chatterton's First Rowlean Work

On the 1st of October 1768 a mysterious article appeared in the local newspaper, Felix Farley's Bristol Journal. It created quite a stir and was to bring Chatterton, Catcott, and Barrett, the three main players in the Chatterton/Rowley story, together for the first time.

The report of the description of the 'Mayor's first Passing over the Old Bridge, taken from and old Manuscript' by 'Dunhelmus Bristoliensis' (one of Chatterton's noms de plume) was the catalyst that would affect their lives more than they could possibly have imagined. 


When the three of them first met, Chatterton was 16, Barrett was 35, and Catcott was 39.  The big question is, how much of a role did they individually play in the creation, development and afterlife of the Rowley phenomenon?

titel ffbj bridge.JPG
Mayor going over bridge a1ab.jpg

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)

Panel C8-4

To John Ladgate;  Songe to Ella; John Ladgate's Answer

Written 1768 - Published 1775 

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)


Panel C8-5

Battle of Hastings No. 2

By Turgotus translated by Roulie for W. Canynge Esq.

Written 1768 - Published 1777 

Battle of Hastyngs p237 small.jpg

The above is the start of Chatterton's poem, which runs to 38 pages in Tyrwhitt's 1777 edition of Rowley's Poems. No manuscript is known to exist and so Tyrwhitt used 'a copy made by Barrett from one in Chatterton's handwriting.'


In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)

Panel C8-6

The Parlyamente of Sprytes

Written 1768 - Published 1782, 1789

Age: 15, Colston's School


This is part of the title page of The Parlyamente of Sprytes, from William Barrett's History of Bristol, 1789, which contains the first full printing [...view]


The Dean Milles, 1782, edition, has a couple of verses only [...view]

Full title: An ENTYRLUDE, plaied bie the Carmelyte Freeres at Mastre Canynges hys greete howse, before Mastre Canynges and Byshoppe Carpenterre, on dedicatynge the chyrche of Oure Ladie of Redclifte, hight.

THE PARLYAMENTE OF SPRYTES. Wroten bie T. Rowleie and J. Iscam

We need a collaborator to get a copy of the original, which, according to Taylor (1971), is at the British Museum. The British Museum reference: f.5.


In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)


Panel C8-7

The Auction, A Poem

Written January / February 1769

london Feb 1769 Epistle to a Friend Titl
London Feb 1769 Epistle to a Friend 1 SN

Contentious or what!

Meyerstein accepts this poem and the Beckford Elegy as Chatterton's. Taylor disagrees, as do some other academics. 

Parts of The Auction, A Poem, was first printed as A Familiar Epistle to a Friend in the February and March 1769 editions of the London Magazine.  The first full printing of The Auction, A Poem was an edition by Kerslake in 1770.


In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)

Panel C8-8

Ǽlla: A Tragycal Enterlude,

or Discoorseynge Tragedie

Epistle to Mastre Canynge on Ǽlla

Letter to the Dynge Mastre Canynge

Written 1769 - Published 1777

Age: 16, Colston's School

p.27 - Dr Fry 100.jpg

Dr. Fry's Transcript. BPL: B6493

The image above is a snippet from Dr. Fry's transcript of a Catcott transcript of Chatterton's original manuscript of Ǽlla: A Tragycal Enterlude, or Discoorseynge Tragedie. 


No complete Ms. of Ǽlla in Chatterton's hand is known to exist, which is strange; it must be out there somewhere (he says hopefully). Even the first printing of it, in 1777, was from a Catcott transcript. 

Chatterton's letter to Dodsley, 15th February, 1769, has an extract, 'Part of  Ǽlle's Speech to his Soldiers going to give Battle to the Danes.........

It is possible that Dr Fry sometimes used a 'copyist,' to transcribe works for him; so, is this a copy in Dr. Fry's handwriting, or not? What would certainly help is a book once owned by Dr. Fry and complete with his annotations - that would be definitive.

We need copies of the following:

  1. ULC (Cambridge), Add. 6295 (unknown hand), f.55. 

  2. Historical Society of Pennsylvania: Letter to Dodsley, 15th February 1769

  3. British Museum: f.36 v. 

  4. British Museum: (Barrett and an unknown hand) f.87a

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)


Panel C8-9

Iconic Moments No. 8  &  9 

Chatterton Writes to Horace Walpole

Accepted then Rejected

To Horace Walpole, 25th March 1769

The Ryse of Peyncteynge, yn Englande

On Richard 1

Written 1769 - Published 1789

From Horace Walpole, 28th March 1769

Written 1769 - Published 1792

To Horace Walpole, 30 March 1769

Histoirie of Payncters yn Englande

Stanza by Ecca

Stanza by Elmar

The Warre

Written 1769 - Published 1792

From Horace Walpole 1st April 1769

Rejection Letter  (LOW)

Written 1769 - Published 1792

To Horace Walpole, 8th April 1769

Written 1769 - Published 1792

To Horace Walpole, 14th April 1769

Written 1769 - Published 1792

To Horace Walpole, 24th July 1769

Written 1769 - Published 1792


The above poem has been accepted as genuine by Meyerstein and Taylor, but Dr. Nick Groom has a different view. To me it certainly feels like a Chatterton piece but I wouldn't presume to outthink the academics.

To Horace Walpole, 24th July 1769

Written 1769 - Published 1837 

The Unposted Poem above from Dix 1837

From Horace Walpole, 4th August 1769?

Written 1769 - Published 1797?


It is clear that Walpole was not responsible for the death of Chatterton, and it is generally accepted that his death was caused by an accidental overdose and not by suicide!

Walpole was 51 when he received 16 year old Chatterton's first letter, complete with his fabricated The Ryse of Peyncteynge, yn Englande​.

Walpole died 2nd March, 1797, aged 79. 

The contents of Strawberry Hill went to auction in April of 1842. The sale lasted 24 days.

Chatterton died 24th August, 1770, at 17 years & nine months of age. There was nothing left in his attic room but the clothes he died in; a pocket book; some scraps of paper; his pens & ink and other such 'worthless' paraphernalia and, on the windowsill, empty phial of kill or cure medicine.

chatterton c e russell.jpg

Thomas Chatterton

Horace_Walpole 1756 (2).jpg

Horace Walpole

Strawberry_Hill_Library wikip 1.jpg

Walpole's Library, Strawberry Hill

Walpole's collection of Chattertoniana can be seen on the top shelf of the bookcase to the right of the window - It's true, honestly!

The majority of Walpole's Chattertoniana (collection of books and letters) eventually ended up in the possession of Lefty-Lewis. Lefty bought it all from the New York Mercantile Library - now there's a man with perseverance in his blood!


Strawberry Hill, Walpole's home

After renovation in 2012

Chatterton's house in the 1920's. 

From an illustration in M's Life of Chatterton.


The upper room on the left is where Chatterton was born. The building to the right of the photograph, is the rear of Pile Street Charity School.  Chatterton's father was master here from 1749 to 1752.

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)


Panel C8-10

Iconic Moment No 10

Chatterton's Mock Will

Written April 14th 1770 - Published 1971

Age: 17, Colston's School



Chatterton's Mock Will

T&CM April 69 Title 1a.jpg
T&CM April 69 Derrick Will 3c.jpg

Samuel Derrick's Mock Will


Samuel Derrick

Meyerstein points out that Chatterton was influenced to write his 'mock' will after reading the mock will of Samuel Derrick, which was printed in the April 1769 issue of the T&CM (Town & Country Magazine).


This same issue contains two of Chatterton's works; Kenrick, Translated from the Saxon, by D.B. [Dunhelmus Bristoliensis]; and An Elegy. Haste, haste, ye solemn messengers of night, by Asaphides. It also has an Epilogue...Written by Mr. Walpole. 

All in all, a very interesting edition.

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)


Panel C9

Iconic Moment No. 11

Chatterton and the Gingerbread

Age:17, Upper Gate, Redcliffe Church


It was on the steps of St Mary Redcliffe, on Saturday 21st August 1770, that Chatterton famously distributed gingerbread to his friends and the local children, and was given the money his friends had collected to help sustain him on his fateful trip to London.  Where did Chatterton get the gingerbread?  Was it donated by his friend John Kator, whose father was a confectioner?


The engraving is from John Britton's History of Redcliffe church, an important little book published in 1813, which contains some first printings of Chatterton's works.


The steps to the left of the church enter the North Porch, and a winding set of steps within the porch lead up to the famous muniment room.

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)


Panel C10

Iconic Moment No. 12    

Chatterton's Coach Trip to London

Age: 17, Bristol - Speenhamland - Shoreditch

mail coach to london.jpg
To Sarah 26 April 1770 resized.jpg

April 24th 1770, was the day Chatterton caught the coach from Bristol to London; he shows from the start that he intends being careful with his money by choosing to ride in the basket of the coach to Brislington, and only going as an inside passenger when the weather turned bad.

The second part of the journey, from Speenhamland to London, took around 12 hours - it was an adventure that would end with his death 122 days later. 

As apprehensive as he must have been, his letter home to his mother telling her about his trip is a real delight; part of the letter, taken from its first printing in Herbert Croft's 1780 book, Love and Madness, is shown above.  


It is also in the 'New and Corrected' edition of the book, 1786, where there are minor differences in punctuation.

Donald Taylor suggests that after Croft returned the 'borrowed' letters to Mrs Chatterton, the letters were ‘dismembered’ and sold by her or her heirs.


It seems that samples of Chatterton's handwriting were eagerly sought after, for example:

I have in my own collection, the lower portion of Chatterton’s letter  to his mother, 14th May 1770,  which ended up in the autograph collection of Martha ‘Patty’ More, Hanah More’s sister. The letter was cut at the folds and Hanah More, who loomed large in the life of both Sarah and Mary Chatterton, got the part with Chatterton's signature.

A sadly departed friend, Tom Routledge, built an impressive collection of Chattertonian books, which his wife, Sandra, has passed on to Simon Fraser University (Canada). Sandra still owns a section cut from Chatterton’s letter to his sister, 30th May 1770, which had made its way to Japan before it was bought by Tom.

According to Donald Taylor, the whereabouts of all three of these letters was unknown; we now have parts from two of the letters but the letter of 26th April, 1770, is still missing. 

These are important documents with perfect provenance. They help to  prove that what Croft prints as Chatterton’s can be accepted as such.

Note: The image of the coaches is from the 1830s and not Bristol; If anyone has an image of a coach and horses leaving Bristol in the 1770s it would be welcome.

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)

Panel C11

Iconic Moment No. 13

Chatterton Meets the Editors

Age: 17, Lodging with Mrs Ballance, Shoreditch

hogarth 1736 coffee shop london.jpg

It is now Thursday 26th April, 1770, and it seems that Chatterton arrived in London early enough to visit four magazine editors: Mr Edmunds of the Middlesex Journal; Mr Fell of  the Freeholder's Magazine; Mr Hamilton of the Town and Country Magazine; and Mr Dodsley of the Annual Register, all mentioned in his letter home to his mother (the same letter as in the previous panel).  The fact that he managed to visit them all on the same day as his arrival in London is amazing and shows that his was now a driven personality. 

The other image is of Tom King's Coffee House (Morning) by Hogarth, drawn in the 1730s. It gives a sense of what Chatterton had to look forward to when visiting some of the coffee shops in London.


There have been claims that Hogarth sketched Chatterton (The Distrest Poet) but this is impossible as he was dead and gone by 1764.  The image above is intriguing; it shows a young man with a book under his arm,  heading for the entrance of the coffee house.

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)


Panel C12

Iconic Moment No. 14 

Chatterton in Shoreditch

25 April 1770 - 31 May 1770 

Age: 17, Lodging with Mrs Ballance, Shoreditch

Chatterton first lodged in Shoreditch with Mrs Ballance, a relative, who shared the house with the main tenant, Mr Walmsley, and his wife, nephew and niece.


Poor Chatterton had to share a bedroom and a bed with the nephew, no wonder he sat up into the early hours writing, writing, writing, forever writing; is it any surprise too, that he lived here for only 5 weeks and 2 days, before seeking some privacy by moving to his own attic room in Brooke Street, Holborn.

The landlord of the Shoreditch house was Herbert Croft, author of Love and Madness - and so the plot thickens!

Croft, according to a letter he wrote to George Stevens in 1782, gained much of his knowledge about Chatterton from his tenants, he mentions Walmsley specifically. 


Croft used the knowledge gained from them, along with a number of Chatterton's personal letters, to thicken his plot of Love and Madness, and to make the book irresistible to 18th century readers.


Croft was not always a man to be trusted, he convinced Chatterton's sister, Mary, to lend him Chatterton's personal letters, with a promise to return them forthwith, instead he left town with the letters and included them in his book without the family's permission - the devil - but, by his devious methods we know a little more about Chatterton than we otherwise would.

Unfortunately I do not have an image  of the house in Shoreditch - can you help with this? The image I have chosen to use instead, is an 18th century engraving of Shoreditch church, which Chatterton would have visited while he was living with Mrs Ballance.

Chatterton's works while in Shoreditch, London.

25 April 1770 - 31 May 1770.

A total of just 37 Days.

There are around 23? works to consider during this period.

I have selected xxxxxx works* to show in their own panels below.:

In any case all of the works can be viewed by clicking the link [...example].


Authentic Works: 

To Sarah Chatterton 26 April [...view]
The Candidates
* Narva and Mored. An African Eclogue 2 May [...C12-1]
The Exhibition. A Personal Satire
A Song. Addressed to Miss C----am
To Sarah Chatterton, Cary et al 6 May 
To the Society at Spring Garden 
Decimus. To the Earl of H-------h
Decimus. To the P----- D----- of W-----,
To Sarah Chatterton  14 May 
Decimus. To the Prime Minster,
Libertas. A Card. To Old Slyboots,

Decimus. An Exhibition of Sign Paintings,
* Probus to the Lord Mayor [...C12-2]
* Elegy 3, to Maria [...C12-3]
Decimus. To the Freeholders of the City of Bristol
To Mary Chatterton 30 May 

Works of Doubtful Authenticity (woda):  

The Bacchanalian;

Letter 4 from a Hunter of Oddities; 

Letter 5 from a Hunter of Oddities;

Lines on Happiness;

The Prophecy

Lost Works (LOW):

Suggested Lost Works are difficult to date, see full list (LOW button)


Works Wrongly Attributed to Chatterton (WWAC):

Dick and Dolly, A Pastoral

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)


Panel C12-1

Narva and Mored, An African Eclogue 

Written 20 May 1770 - Published May 1770

Narva and Mored first published in The London Magazine in  May 1770, with the signature 'C,' Brooke Street, June 12.  Can't find my copy of London, so here is the 2nd printing from the 1778 edition of Chatterton's Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, which derives its text from The London Magazine.  The two editions  differ only in some additional punctuation in the 1778.  Click to view the 1778 edition [...view]

Panel C12-2

Iconic Moment No. 15 

Chatterton meets William Beckford, Lord Mayor of London.

Chatterton's Letter to the Lord Mayor

Chatterton certainly had confidence enough, and ideas big enough, at the age of 17, to manipulate a meeting with the Lord Mayor of London.  

His manipulation started with an article in the Middlesex Journal, written on the 18 May but not published until the 25th, the day after Beckford had the nerve to 'instruct' the King to dissolve parliament.  The timing was perfect, now when Chatterton asked to meet with the Lord Mayor he was welcomed as a political ally; little did they know that he was happy to write on 'both sides of the question,' he was a living version of Apostate Will.

Here is a boy who has a plan, he has gone from the disappointment of rejection by Walpole, to seeking the support of William Beckford, Lord Mayor of London and the talk of the whole of England. 

Chatterton must have been delighted with how things had gone; as can be seen by his letter home to Mary on the 30th May 1770, but he was to be thrown into fits of despair on the 21st June, when Beckford up and died out of the blue!  

The only known remnant of Chatterton's letter to Mary, 30 May 1770, is shown above. It is actually a single piece with writing on both sides of it. It is described in a presentation that Tom Routledge made to the Chatterton Society in 2003. 

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)

Panel C12-3

Elegy 3 - To Maria

O! Quickly may the Friendly Ruin Fall 

Written & Published May 1770

Elegy 3, To Maria, O! Quickly may the Friendly Ruin Fall.  It seems that the  version in this magazine differs from the handwritten transcript in Bristol Reference Library, which is the only copy in manuscript form.

This is one of my favourite poems, which probably means I am a pleb - I knows what I likes and I likes what I knows!


Click the link to read the first printing, which was in the Town and Country Mag. [...view]

Click the Link to read the 'original'  [ link yet]  Reference Library is closed, so it will be sometime during 2021.

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - We're going to need a bigger Website! (.Q.)


Panel C13

Not ready yet


Panel C14

Iconic Moment No. 16 

Chatterton in Brooke Street

Age: still only 17 and he won't reach 18

Brooke Street, Holborn, London

Brooke Street, Holborn

Part of Letter VI from A Hunter of Oddities

Town & Country Magazine June 1770

Chatterton has moved, from the restrictions and lack of privacy of Shoreditch, to his own room at Holborn and, more to the point, he can control what his family in Bristol might be told about his situation - nobody can belie him now, but he has just 12 weeks and 1 day to live.

Brook Street was a somewhat sleazy and run-down area, but now, at last, he had the privacy he craved. The privacy he needed to put pen to paper and bring to light the works filling his head.

Arbitrarily I choose June to be his first day in Brooke Street. The Death of Nicou, was dated Brooke-Street, 12th June. His letter to his mother dated the 14th May, states 'Direct for me, at Mr. Walmsley's, at Shoreditch - only, so at that point in time he had no plans to be anywhere else.

Works during the period: 1 June 1770 to 24 August 1770 (The Night Chatterton Died):


Authentic Works: 

The Death of Nicou, an African Eclogue (Panel C15-1)

Letter 6 from A Hunter of Oddities

Maria Friendless Letter

Exhibition of Sign Paintings, at the West End of the Town

To Mary Chatterton, 19, 29 June 1770

Speech of Sir John de Beauchamp

The False Step, a Real History

To Miss B-----sh, of Bristol

The Revenge, A Burletta (Panel C15-2)

A Bacchanalian sung by Mr. Reinhold

The Invitation to be sung by Mrs. Barthelemon and by Master Cheney

A Bacchanalian

The Virgin's Choice

The Happy Pair

Betsy of the Hill

A Burlesque Cantata

Burletta. The Woman of Spirit

To Thomas Cary, 1st July 1770

Genuine Copy of a Letter from the Earl of C---------d to the Hon. Mr. C----

An Excelente Balade of Charitie (Panel C15-3) - Not Ready Yet

To Sarah Chatterton, 8 July 1770

To Mary Chatterton, 11 July 1770

To Mary Chatterton, 20 July 1770

The Art of Puffing by a Bookseller's Journeyman

Memoirs of a Sad Dog

An African Song

Menenius. To William Lord M-----d

From George Catcott, 12 August 1770

Decimus. To Dr. Newton Bishop of Bristol

The Happy Pair. A Tale


Colin Instructed

To John Rudhall and Baster, n.d

Impromtu on the Immortality of the Soul

To a Friend on His Intended Marriage

The Resignation

From an Unknown Girl, n.d. The Letter Paraphras'd (Panel C15-4)

To William Smith, n.d.

WODA (Works of Doubtful Authenticity):

An Elegy on the Much Lamented Death of William Beckford, Esq (Panel C15-5) - Not Ready Yet.

Anecdote on Judge Jeffries;

The Last Verses Written by Chatterton (Panel C15-6) - Not Ready Yet.

And 35 other items

LOW (Lost Works):


Works Wrongly Attributed WWACKY):

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)

Panel C15-1

The Death of Nicou,

an African Eclogue

Written June 1770 - Published June 1770

The Death of Nicou was first published in The London Magazine in June 1770, with the signature 'C,' Brooke Street, June 12.  Can't find my copy of London, so here is the 2nd printing from the 1778 edition of Chatterton's Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, which derives its text from The London Magazine.  The two editions  differ only in some additional punctuation in the 1778.  Click to view the 1778 edition [...view]

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - Working here Boss! (.Q.)

Panel C15-2

The Revenge, A Burletta

Acted at Marybone Gardens 1770

Written 1770 - Published 1795

Age: 17, Brooke Street,  Holborn

Chatterton Manuscript

Bristol Library B20932

It would be sensible to make this manuscript whole once again. Currently it is in two parts, one part in the British Museum and one part in Bristol Library.

The Revenge, A Burletta, acted at Marybone Gardens, MDCCLXX (1770) with Additional Songs:

Bristol Library Manuscript Lines 25 - 52 only; B20932 [...view]

Printed edition, published 1795 (.Q's copy) [...view]

British Library Manuscript:

lines 1-24; 53-443; 496-576 plus the first two songs as per 1795; Add. 12050 [...No Link Yet]

A collaborator is needed to photograph this manuscript.

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)


Panel C16

Iconic Moment No. 17

   Chatterton's Death - Accident or Suicide?

Age: 17 years  9 months, Brooke Street,  Holborn

Chatterton was found dead on the morning of the 24th August 1770

Did he commit suicide or was he self-medicating and his death a horrible accident? And was it really as romantic an event as depicted in Wallis's painting or, in reality, more like the depiction in Bartolozzi's engraving?

Wallis chatterton 1866.png

Herbert Croft is writing in the guise of James Hackman, when he describes how strongly he felt when he visited the room Chatterton died in. It is on page 223 of the 1786 fifth edition of his book Love and Madness, (p.198 in the, 1780, fourth edition):

Love and Madness p.223 visit to Chatterton's room Brooke Street

The two engravings on The Death of Chatterton, are an example of the confusion running throughout the Chatterton story, but if you think that the confusion or obfuscations ended when the 20th century arrived you would be wrong - so, part of our brief, is to cut through the confusion and discover the truth of it!

We all know that George Meredith was the model for Wallis's famous painting; but did you know that the gruesome image with the rats, by Bartolozzi, which was listed as The Death of Chatterton by the British Museum and the National Portrait Gallery, is not a representation of the death of Chatterton at all - or is it? It was engraved for the poem Retirement by James Henry Leigh Hunt, and can be seen in his book Juvenilia, 1802 - but, but, but, we could confirm the truth of it if we had sight of Raphael Lamar West's original painting, with whatever title he gave it

You can now add the delightful little watercolour by John Absolon, 1815-1895, to the list.  It was up for sale during 2020, and was listed by the auctioneer as 'The Death of Chatterton' simply because someone had written that title on the back of it. 

It is actually a watercolour with the title 'The First Night in a Convent'. The model lying in the Chatterton pose, is actually a young nun - and she is sleeping, not dying!

Now take a look at the manuscript below; it is by the hand of Rev. Michael Lort and records a conversation he had with Mr Cross the apothecary.  I will put the whole document on in due course - with a transcript.  In the mean time, here's Meyerstein quoting Lort from this very document: 'Mr Cross says he [Chatterton] had the foul disease which he wd cure himself and had calomel and vitriol of Cross for that purpose who cautioned him against the too free use of these particularly the latter'


Rev. Lort's Ms. re Cross & Chatterton

Was Chatterton buried in a pauper's grave in London, or was he brought back to Bristol and buried in the family grave in St Mary Redcliffe church?  The general consensus is a pauper's grave in the Shoe Lane Workhouse burial ground. Some questions remain unsolvable, but Sherlock Homes had the right idea; 'when you have excluded the impossible whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth'. I only mention Holmes because there is a scene in a Sherlock Holmes movie with Sherlock lying on a bed in an attic room in the Wallis pose.

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration -

Howe woe-be-gone, how withered, forwynd, deade! (.Q.)


Panel C17

Chatterton's Opium Stained Pocket Book 

Chatterton's Age:17 3/4, Brooke Street, Holborn

donald taylor document.jpg

Chatterton's Pocket Book 1769 - 1770

The panel for the pocket book is under construction, but it is such an important item I am presenting it here, along with Donald Taylor's research document concerning the Pocket Book and 'Chatterton's Suicide', which was published in 1952.

In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - it's only a start! (.Q.)