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C3 Colston's Hospital School
Works at Colston's

The Colston's Hospital School Years

3 August 1760 - 30 June 1767

Age: 7-14

The Colston's Hospital School Register

Slideshow - Click Image for more...

Thomas Chatterton's future has been mapped out for him. 

It starts with his registration in the school register for 3rd August 1760; it is worth noting that Chatterton was rejected from Pile Street School in 1757/8 for being too dull to learn, but now he has been nominated by 'John Lambert, Attorney,' to become an apprentice Scrivener on the 1st July 1767. 

To read more on Chatterton's time at Colston's, see John Ingram's 'The True Chatterton,' the link takes you directly to the chapter about Colston's.  You might also read The Life of Thomas Chatterton by George Gregory, 1789, which is preferred by Meyerstein.  Alternatively, go to the 'Biographies & Works' page, where you will find links to almost all of the biographies of Chatterton from 1780 onwards. 


There are up to 22 works to consider while Chatterton was at Colston's, although only three or four are regarded as authentic. The others include four or five marked as works of doubtful authenticity, two presumed lost, and twelve wrongly attributed.


Surely, considering the regime at Colston's, there can be no surprise if he did manage only four authentic works over the nearly 7 years at the school.

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Colston's Great HouseOn St Augustine's Back, Bristol

It became Colston's Charity School.

Delight and Disappointment

Chatterton was now in his eighth year and must have been looking forward to this new episode in his life, he was, perhaps, full of hope for what lay ahead. But, on his first day at Colston's School, Sunday 3rd of August 1760, Chatterton's hopes were dashed.  He soon discovered that the lessons were basic and covered Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and Religion by Rote.  That was his lot and all he would be taught - taught you say; I say rammed or beaten into the boys.  Suddenly he had gone from being a free spirit able to wander as he pleased, to near 'imprisonment' as a border, and in bed at 8 pm summer or winter. 


It is no surprise that Chatterton is said to have claimed he could learn more at home from books.

A Colston's Schoolboy

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The traditional uniform at Colston's included a badge of brass, for everyday wear, and silver for special occasions. The badges were impressed with a dolphin, as seen on the arms of Colston.

Silver Badges were introduced, around 1782, the gift of John Purrier, an old boy of the school (1743-1751).  So it seems that not everyone disliked the education at Colston's.

Chatterton's Confirmation

Received while at Colston's

1762/4 - Aged: 10/12

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Chatterton was baptised in St Mary Redcliffe church on the 1st January, 1753. He was Confirmed sometime between 1762 -1764, by Bishop Thomas Newton, a man he came to despise.

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Chatterton's sister, Mary Newton, and Dr. Lort (B11457), say that he was Confirmed in 1764. Taylor states that if it was 1764 then 'On the Last Epiphany'  is not by Chatterton.

Meyerstein disagrees and seems convinced that it is Chatterton's work. It's just another of the Chatterton conundrums.

At around 10 years of age, Chatterton, according to his sister, "Was more cheerful After he began to write poetry." 

A Word of Warning

If you know anything of the career of the murderer and forger, Mark Hofmann, you will know that everything can be forged and everyone can be fooled! This is why we must continually reconsider Chatterton's works, especially his 'Works of Doubtful Authenticity,' which is exactly what Donald S. Taylor wanted us to do!  Donald must have had the foresight to see that research would become so much easier as the years rolled on.

The Thomas Chatterton Manuscript Project is doing the bidding of Donald S. Taylor and Edward H.W. Meyerstein.  The project aims to complete their work by gathering everything Chattertonian into one place for research - with no restrictions and free to all!

Now, where are my whips, I feel the need for some flagellation - sorry EHWM, but your own collection of whips were consigned to a fire - the end of all things!  

Chatterton's Works at Colston's 

3 August 1760 to 30 June 1767.

NOTE: A huge amount of work has gone into preparing and presenting the manuscripts on this website and I want you to experience them in the best way possible. So, please bear in mind that the images of manuscripts really do need to be viewed on a laptop or PC.  A lesser option would be a decent sized tablet.  I won't mention m-b--e ph--es!

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