Canynges Coffer

The Gateway to Chatterton Manuscripts

This rather long scrolling page is laid out, near enough, in the order of Chatterton's short life. I believe this makes it easier to appreciate the flow and growth of his works and might even show how he saw himself from one iconic moment to the next. So, go ahead and join young Tom on his journey and imagine his joy and pain as he strives to make his way in the world, from his blossoming in mercenary Bristol to his fateful trip to London and final demise in a rough garret in Brooke Street, London.

Panel C1

The Chatterton Family Bible

First Sample of Chatterton's Handwriting? 

New facts William George.JPG
Protective Box Chatterton Bible
Family Details Chatterton Bible

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 vitriolic argument played out in various editions of a magazine of the day, The Athanaeum, between John Taylor,  author and Bristol librarian, 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?

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Bible Engraving

It is said that Chatterton was taught to read using this bible, so it is highly likely that he was greatly influenced by the stories and engravings in it; for this reason, it would be useful to see the bible as it was when Chatterton was learning to read from it. 

So, I plan to create an online version of the Chatterton Family bible, complete as it was when new.  I will be using what remains of the bible with the addition of the missing pages and engravings from whichever other edition the family bible resolves itself to be.

However, I found early on is that it is difficult to distinguish one edition from the other because the engravings tend to vary from edition to edition, and I wondered how, without the help of the title page, they came to decide it was the 1737 edition? Fortunately, I managed to obtain copies of all three editions and am in the throes of comparing and collating the contents.


Details of this research, along with images of the family bible, can be seen by clicking the Chatterton Bible button.

Heads up! When you work with old documents and are trying to determine who the handwriting belongs to, it is as well to note the career of the American counterfeiter & murderer, Mark Hofmann. His counterfeiting shenanigans should give you pause for thought!  He was in Bristol in 1973 for his two-year Mormon mission and it seems certain that he would have helped himself to blank pages from antiquarian books in our reference library.  He even bought an antiquarian bible from an antique shop on the Christmas Steppes, Bristol, which formed part of one of his early frauds upon the Mormon Church.  It is thought that Chatterton was one of Hofmann's inspirations and that he chose Bristol for his mission because it would bring him closer to a depository of antique documents!


Panel C2

Iconic Moment No. 1 

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

Chatterton's Age: 5  

Dwelling /Location:  Master's House, Pile Street

IMG_3160 (4).JPG

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


The above image depicts the 'Paint me an Angel with a Trumpet' anecdote. It was completed 75 years after the anecdote first appeared in The Pubic Advertiser, 1772 (I have yet to see this edition).  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.

Chatterton's sister told the Angel with a Trumpet anecdote to Dr Michael Lort in October 1784, it is also in the 1780 edition of Herbert Croft's Love and Madness.  It must be said that Chatterton looks older than 5 years of age - a little poetic licence never hurt anyone, I guess!


The cutting shows the anecdote from p.23, of 'A Life of Thomas Chatterton', by Edward Harry William Meyerstein. Click the button to read the Ms. of Meyersteins book and to discover more about a fascinating Chattertonian 'hero.' 


Meyerstein wrote his book in longhand, which must have taken him years to complete. It took me long enough, just to collate and photograph it and then compare it to the printed version.


Panel C3

'Portraits' of Chatterton  

Engravings - Paintings - Sketches - Descriptions


Thomas Chatterton?


Thomas Chatterton?


Thomas Chatterton?

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 six of them in this panel:

  • The infamous 'Goggle Eyes' engraving, in the oval, is possibly the earliest one. It was published in The Monthly Visitor in 1797.  I guess they were trying to pick up on the claim that Chatterton had eyes that blazed, so they increased the size of the eyes to represent this.

  • The image in profile, is the one used by Dix for his 1837 The Life of Thomas Chatterton. It depicts Chatterton at around 10 years of age. Note the similarities with the 'Goggle Eyes' engraving!

  • The painting of a man wearing a voluminous jacket, was stated to be Chatterton in an auction in 2005. 


Thomas Chatterton?


Thomas Chatterton?


Thomas Chatterton?

I believe that it is worth putting a face to Chatterton's name; for one it makes him less abstract. So, for future reference, we will use the image from John Dix's 1837 edition (or, rather, the painted version of it, in colour) to represent Bristol's young poet. If this offends anyone, I would simply ask that you tell me what Shakespeare looks like? 

To be fair, I have chosen this image because it "persists as a popular representation of the poet." The words in 'hooks' are the words of Mr Hake, Keeper of the National Portrait Gallery - as quoted by M (Meyerstein).

Click the button to investigate the provenance of the above 'portraits' and the many other images of Chatterton.  Do let me know which portrait you prefer me to use and why? More importantly, if you choose to investigate this subject do keep us informed of your discoveries!  I will bow to the wishes of the majority. 


Panel C4

Iconic Moment No. 2   

Expelled from School for Being too Dull to Learn

Chatterton's Age: 5

Dwelling/Location: Master's House & School, Pile Street, Bristol

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Master's House, Pile Street

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School & House

Chattertons Birthplace Pile St JHI  a cr

School, Pile Street

Chatterton was born in the upper left room of the Master's house, which was built in 1749 by Giles Malpas for the use of the Master of the attached Charity School.  The schoolroom was demolished for a road-widening scheme, but at least they retained the facade, which was rebuilt to abutt the house at right angles to it. The house is now a delightful little coffee shop, aptly named Chatterton's Cafe. 

The house is directly across the road from St Mary Redcliffe Church, so it is quite easy to visit both on the same day and then take a gentle walk along the harbour to the M Shed Museum, where you can see some original Chatterton relics.

Plenty of eateries near the M Shed too, yum, yum! - Click the button for my suggested Chatterton Trail. 


When he died on the 7th August in 1752, Thomas Chatterton's father was thirty-eight years of age, and master of Pile Street School.   His 21 year old wife, Sarah, was six months into her pregnancy with Chatterton, our poet, and now was a widow with an uncertain future.  She 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 Mr Chard, the new Master of Pile Street school, 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.  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.

Sarah must have had problems enough, but Mr Love, shortly after taking over, added to her woes by expelling Chatterton for being too dull to learn.  Sarah was now left with two children to home-school and provide for, so it was a real blessing for her when, three years later, in 1760, Colston's Hospital School accepted Chatterton as a pupil, complete with a built-in apprenticeship.

We need to resolve exactly where the Chatterton family lived after leaving Pile Street. Click the button to read more on this subject.


Panel C5

Iconic Moment No. 3   

Colston's Hospital School - Delight and Disappointment

Chatterton's Age: 7 - 14 years. 

Dwelling/Location:  Colston's Hospital School, Bristol

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Colston School The Great House cropped.j

A Colston's Schoolboy, dressed in the traditional uniform, points at a school badge. The boys were issued with a bronze badge, which they wore daily, and a silver badge for special occasions.  Colston's Great House, on St Augustine's Back in Bristol, was the rather imposing building used as the school.

The Colston Hall now stands where the Great House once stood, but it looks like the lessons that matter, are still not being learnt here. The name Colston is mired in controversy and so the Colston Hall, which is undergoing a massive refurbishment, is due to be renamed. The people responsible for renaming the Colston Hall are looking for a more worthy and relevant name; they could do worse than renaming it in honour of a true Bristolian, Thomas Chatterton.

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 also found that the freedom he was used to was gone the moment he stepped into the building.  He once exclaimed that he could learn more at home from books.


According to Donald S. Taylor, Chatterton, in his nearly 7 years at Colston's, wrote only three 'authentic' works. The  Donald also lists a number of works as WODA & LOW - see below.

There are no known works of Chatterton before he went to Colston's Hospital School

C5a: Works from 3rd August 1760 (first day at Colston's) to 30th June 1767 (last day at Colston's)


Authentic Works: Apostate Will (Panel 5-1); Sly Dick (Panel 5-2); A Hymn for Christmas Day (Panel 5-2). 

WODA (Works of Doubtful Authenticity): On the Last Epiphany (Panel 5-3); The Churchwarden and the Apparition (WODA Button); I've let my Yard, and sold my Clay (WODA Button); Letter from Fullford, the Grave-digger (WODA Button); Custom. A Satire (WODA Button).

WWAC (Works Wrongly Attributed to Chatterton): Nine pieces to view (WWAC Button).


LOW (Lost Works): Paraphrases of Job ix and Isaiah (LOW Button); Satiric Lines on a Schoolmaster (LOW Button);.


Panel C5-1

Apostate Will 

  Written 1764 - Published 1780

Chatterton's Age: 11 / 12 

Dwelling/Location: Colston's School, Bristol

Appostate Will Catcott B5342.jpg

The Catcott Transcript

Apostte Will Croft 1.jpg

The Croft Transcript

Apostate Will is one of Chatterton's earliest works. It was 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 manuscript is missing? 


Panel C5-2

Sly Dick & A Hymn for Christmas Day     

Written 1764 - Published 1803

Chatterton's Age: 12

Dwelling/Location: Colston's School, Bristol

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.


Panel C5-3

Iconic Moment  No. 4   

On The Last Epiphany (WODA)

Chatterton's First Time in Print?

Chatterton's Age: 10

Dwelling/Location: Colston's School, Bristol

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

Printed in Felix Farley's Bristol Journal, 8th January 1763, when Chatterton was 10 years old.

It was first claimed as Chatterton's work by William Tyson in 1837, and is accepted as such by Meyerstein, but has been listed in WODA 'Works of Doubtful Authenticity' by Donald S. Taylor.


Panel C6

Iconic Moment  No. 5    

Confirmation in St Mary Redcliffe Church

 Chatterton's Age: 10

 Dwelling/Location: Colston's School, Bristol

St Mary Redcliffe by Toms 1.jpg
st mary Kator.jpg

It was in St Mary Redcliffe, on 1st January, 1753, that Chatterton was Baptised.  He was Confirmed between 1762-4, by Bishop Thomas Newton, a man he was to come to despise. 

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

The two engravings of St Mary Redcliffe are notable for a number of reasons: They were drawn by different artists, but engraved in the same year, by the same engraver, a man named Toms. The rather creased engraving, without the ornate cartouche, is supposed to have hung in the house of a family by the name of Kator.  


Mr Kator was a confectioner, and his son, John, was a friend of Chatterton's. It is suggested, quite reasonably, that Chatterton would have visited Kator's house and would have seen this engraving hanging on the wall. The engraving contains a potted history of  St Mary Redcliffe, so the claim, by Rowleyites, that Chatterton must have learned the history of the church from the coffers in the Muniment Room, is refuted.


More importantly, shortly before he went on his fateful trip to London, Chatterton is supposed to have given gingerbread to the children gathered on the steps of St Mary Redcliffe. I wonder, did he buy the gingerbread from Kator? Ok, ok, I know it's not 'more' important, but it is all grist to the mill and helps to build an understanding, a feeling for that moment in time!

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

Lippincotts Magazine.JPG

Panel C7

A Tall Tail & A Secret Message

Chatterton Creating his Rowley Manuscripts

Chatterton's Age: 10 to 15

Dwelling/Location: 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.


Panel C8

Lambert's Office

Chatterton started his apprenticeship here on the 3rd July 1767. His indentures were cancelled after Lambert found Chatterton's mock will on his desk in April 1770?


Millerd's map for 1671, shows Corne [Corn] Street, Bristol, the site of Lambert's office, at F to D., and at the foot it shows the old Bristol Bridge, complete with houses, workshops and offices running along both sides. The old bridge was replaced in 1768. 

Chatterton wrote the rest of his Bristol works while here at Lambert's in Corn Street. 

C8a: Works Between: 3rd July 1767  -  31st December 1767: 

Covers Chatterton's first six months working as a Scrivener at Lambert's 


Authentic Works: Nothing known during this time (Nothing in Taylor).

WODA (Works of Doubtful Authenticity): Nothing known during this time (Nothing in Taylor).

LOW (Lost Works):  Letter to a Schoolmaster (LOW button)


WWAC (Works Wrongly Attributed to Chatterton): (WWAC button)

C8b: Works Between 1st January 1768  -   30th September 1768

Before publication of the Mayor First Passing Over the Old Bridge (Bridge Narrative) 1/10/1768

Authentic Works: Bristows Tragedy or the Death of Sr Charles Bawdin (Panel 8-1); 'Ynn auntient Dayes, when Kenewalchyn Kynge'  (check this)  Antiquities Book 3rd [which contains]: The Battle of Hastynges; Craishes Herauldry; The Unknown Knyght or The Tournament (Panel: 8-2); All other Authentic Work not mentioned in this panel (Authentic Works button)

WODA (Works of Doubtful Authenticity): A Card to John Wilkes, Esq (WODA Button)

 LOW (Lost Works):  Ode to Lais (LOW button); Antiquities Books 1st & 2nd (LOW button).

WWAC (Works Wrongly Attributed to Chatterton): (WWAC button)

C8c: Works between 1st October 1768  -   5th April 1769

After publication of Bridge Narrative 1/10/68, and before Walpole's Letter of  Rejection [5/04/69].


Authentic Works: 'The Mayor's first Passing over the Old Bridge' (Panel C8-3); Battle of Hastings 2 (Panel C8-4); The Parlyamente of Sprytes (Panel C8-5);   Ǽlla: A Tragycal Enterlude, or Discoorseynge Tragedie (Panel C8-7); To and from Horace Walpole (Panel C8-8)All other Authentic Works not mentioned in this panel (Authentic Works button)

WODA (Works of Doubtful Authenticity): The Particulars of a Happy Government; Extract of a Letter from a young Gentleman at Plymouth (see button)

LOW (Lost Works): Letter from Horace Walpole, 1st April 1769 (Panel C8-8)

Works Wrongly Attributed to C (WWAC): The Auction a Poem (Panel C8-6)

C8d: Works between 6th  April 1769  -  23rd April 1770.

After Walpole's Letter of  Rejection [5/04/69] to Chatterton's Last Day in Bristol


Authentic Works: To and from Horace Walpole (Panel C8-8);  


WODA (Works of Doubtful Authenticity):  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 (All on WODA Button)

LOW (Lost Works): A Manks Tragedy; Ode to Duke Harry; To Isaac Fell, 10 March 1770; To Michael Clayfield, Feb/March 1770; Fragment of a Comedy or Farce (All on LOW Button)

WWAC (Wrongly Attributed to Chatterton): (WWAC Button)


Panel C8.1

 Bristows Tragedy or the Death of Sr Charles Bawdin

 Written 1768 - Published 1772

Chatterton's Age: 10

Dwelling/Location: Colston's School, Bristol

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 and sensible editors 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  'M' accepts it as Chatterton's but 'T' is sure that it is not!  A nice little conundrum for you to sort out, but please do note how much easier it is for us these days, now that we can easily compare as many documents as we wish, side by side.

The other 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.


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.


Panel C8-3

Iconic Moment No. 7 

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

Chatterton's Age: 10

Dwelling/Location: Colston's School, Bristol

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. 


Chatterton was 16 when they first met, 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?

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Mayor going over bridge a1ab.jpg

Panel C8-4

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.'


Panel C8-5

The Parlyamente of Sprytes

Written 1768 - Published 1782, 1789

Chatterton's Age: 10

Dwelling/Location: Colston's School, Bristol


This is part of the title page for The Parlyamente of Sprytes. It is from the 1789 edition of William Barrett's History of Bristol. You can see both the 1789 and the Milles 1782 versions within.

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 PARLYAMENT OF SPRYTES. Wroten bie T. Rowleie and J. Iscam

We need copies of the following:

  1. British Museum: f.5, The original Chatterton manuscript.


Panel C8-6

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 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.

Under Construction - busy working in the garden after 30 heifers got in and started eating the flowers. Making fences to keep them out - all to keep in my wife's good books.


Panel C8-7

Ǽlla: A Tragycal Enterlude,

or Discoorseynge Tragedie

Epistle to Mastre Canynge on Ǽlla

Letter to the Dynge Mastre Canynge

Written 1769 - Published 1777

Chatterton's Age: 10

Dwelling/Location: Colston's School, Bristol

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. (when searching the site: Aella)

No complete Ms. of Ǽlla, in Chatterton's hand, is known to exist, which is strange; it must be out there somewhere. Although, even the first printing, 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 supposed 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 we need, to be sure, is a book once owned by Dr. Fry and complete with his 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


Panel C8-8

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. So, what do you think?

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.

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Thomas Chatterton

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Horace Walpole

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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.


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Iconic Moment No 10

Chatterton's Mock Will

Written April 14th 1770 - Published 1971

Chatterton's Age: 16

Dwelling/Location: Colston's School, Bristol



Chatterton's Mock Will

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Samuel Derrick's Mock Will


Samuel Derrick

'M' (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.


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Periodicals Containing Chatterton's Works

To 24th April 1770

The  Day Chatterton Departed Bristol for London

Chatterton's Age: 10

Dwelling/Location: Colston's School, Bristol

By the time Chatterton had caught the Stagecoach to London, around 28 pieces of his had been published in at least 7 different periodicals, but he had written much more besides, which didn't see the light of day until after he died.


Click a magazine cover to see the works published in that periodical. Click the button to see his unpublished works to 24th April 1770.

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Awaiting photo of the Middlesex Journal

Awaiting image of Bristol Journal 28/1/1769

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Awaiting image of Freeholders Magazine

Awaiting image  of Court and City Magazine


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Iconic Moment No. 11

Chatterton and the Gingerbread

Chatterton's Age:17

Dwelling/Location: Upper Gate, Redcliffe, Bristol


It was on the steps of St Mary Redcliffe, on Saturday 21st August 1770, that Chatterton famously distributed gingerbread to the children of the neighbourhood, and was given the money his friends had collected to help sustain him on his move to London.

So many questions and yet the simplest ones can be the most fun; 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 containing some first printings of Chatterton's works. Check out the sled being pulled over the cobbles, bottom right. 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.


There are six or more 'panels' under construction before the Canynges Coffer page will be ready, plus proof-reading and correcting the whole of the website. The new panels will appear here above this panel when ready. In the meantime enjoy the following

Iconic Moment No. 666

Chatterton's Opium Stained Pocket Book 

Chatterton's Age:17 3/4

Dwelling/Location: Brooke Street, Holborn, London

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Chatterton's Pocket Book 1769 - 1770

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

© 2019 by Thomas Chatterton Manuscript Project