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c5 Lamberts
Works Phase 1
Bridge Narrative
Last Will and Testament

Lambert's the Attorney

Chatterton Indentured as an

Apprentice Scrivener

1st July 1767 - 14th April 1770

Chatterton entered his apprenticeship on the 1st July 1767, for 'the Term of SEVEN Years next ensuing.' However, after just two years, 9 Months & 13 Days, Lambert, in a panic, cancelled the indenture when he discovered a 'Will' written by Chatterton on the office desk. Scroll to read the original 'Will' in Chatterton's handwriting, which is further down the page - well it was his last act at Lambert's.

To read more on Chatterton's time at Lambert's, see John Ingram's 'The True Chatterton,' the link takes you directly to the apprenticeship chapter.

Alternatively go to the 'Biographies & Works' page, where you will find links to almost all of the biographies of Chatterton from 1780 onwards. 


Chatterton, according to his sister, Mary, had only 2 hours of work each day at Lambert's,  

leaving plenty of time to write his poems and create his other works, in fact he wrote more than 160 of his own works while 'working' at Lambert's. It sounds like a large number but equates to something like one piece of work every six days.

Lambert's Office & Bristol Bridge

Lambert's office was on Corne Street (these days known as Corn St). It is shown below on Millerd's map from 'F' to 'E' (the left arm of the crossroads). The Old Bristol Bridge can be seen at the bottom of the map, complete with houses and workshops. The replacement of such an important bridge, in 1768, was a major event in Bristol, and inspired Chatterton to write what became his first published Rowlean Work.


Lambert's Office, Corne St.


 Millerd's Map of Bristol 1671

On the 1st of October 1768 an anonymous article appeared in

 Felix Farley's Bristol Journal

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

Taken from an old Manuscript"


Dunhelmus Bristoliensis*

*Dunhelmus Bristoliensis is one of Chatterton's pen names but

was also used by Catcott when trying to  manipulate the press.

It was a momentous occasion for Chatterton. 

The First time in Print of one of his Rowley 'forgeries.'

bristol_bridge small.jpg
Bristol Bridge Rebuilt 1768

Bristol Bridge in Olden Times

Chatterton Mayor first passing over old bridge Bristol

Main Menu : The Mayor's First Passing over the Old Bridge

The original manuscript of The Mayor's First Passing over the Old Bridge, included two 'Songes,' which the Bristol Journal did not include when publishing the above. I am guessing that lack of space was the problem. I have rectified the omission with handwritten transcripts by Catcott of the two 'Songes.'  Click the image above to go to the main menu for The Mayor's First Passing...., which includes the Songe of Saincte Werburgh, and the Songe of Sayncte Baldwyn.  I will include copies of Chatterton's originals in due course (I don't have them at the moment). 

Early Transcript of the Bridge Narrative

1794 edition of Chatterton's Poems, annotated with MS. Description of the Mayor's first passing over the old bridge

My 1794 copy of Rowley's Poems with an early manuscript copy of a Description of the Mayor's first Passing over the old bridge,  tipped in and also written directly on to the blank pages.

1794 edition of Chatterton's Poems, annotated with MS. Description of the Mayor's first passing over the old bridge

The article about Bristol Bridge created quite a stir.

It was to bring Chatterton, Catcott, & Barrett, the main players in the Chatterton-Rowley story, together for the first time. It was the catalyst that would affect their lives more than they could have imagined. 

When they first met,  Chatterton was not yet 16,  Barrett was 35, and Catcott was 39. 

The big question is: How much of a role did they individually (or jointly) play in the creation, development and afterlife of the Rowley phenomenon?

Read more on this subject: Biographies of Chatterton

Chatterton's Last Act at Lambert's

b7 This is the Last Will reduced.jpg

Chatterton needed a way out of his suffocating and demeaning apprenticeship, so he wrote his own (mock) Last Will & Testament and left it on his desk for Lambert to find.  Chatterton was a good judge of character, he was sure that it would frighten Lambert enough to get his freedom. He had read Lambert perfectly, for when Lambert found the Will he was so shocked he dismissed Chatterton immediately. This was on or about the 14th April 1770 - Chatterton was now free to make his own way in the world.

Chatterton's Works at Lambert's 

NOTE: The website proper is excellent on all formats, however, when viewing manuscripts you should use a laptop or PC.  If you choose to use a mobile phone you will need to adjust the settings to get a clear view of the manuscripts.  So, when using a mobile select 'Desk Top' or 'Print Layout', or fiddle with the settings to suit - after all you have nothing to lose but time!

Mock Will Chatterton
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