Iconic Moment No. 2
Expelled from School for Being too Dull to Learn
Age: 5, Master's House & 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 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, Mr Chard 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 had problems enough but Mr Love, shortly after taking over the school, added to her woes by expelling Chatterton for being too dull to learn. Sarah was left with two children to home-school and provide for, so it was a real blessing 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.
In Flux and Subject to Collaboration - working on this! (.Q.)