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The Chatterton

 Family Bible

First Sample of Chatterton's Handwriting? 

Chatterton Family Bible
Chatterton Family Bible Spine.JPG
Chatterton Family Bible Script

Laurence Clarke's,

A Compleat History of the Holy Bible

There are three editions, 1737, 1739, 1740

It has been assumed that the bible

Is the 1737 edition - but is it?

Many pages & engravings are missing

As well as the Dated Title Page

The image below

Is from my own imperfect copy of 1737

Chatterton was taught his ABC

From an old French Music Folio

His Mother was tearing up for

Thread Papers


Was taught to read

Using this bible

It is likely that he was influenced

By the now missing engravings

It would be useful to see the bible 

In Original Condition &

Determine his earliest influences


I have Obtained Copies of

The 1739 & 1740 editions

And an imperfect 1737

I plan to Compare and Collate them

With the Family Bible

With Luck I will Recreate

whichever edition

The family bible resolves itself to be

The Rediscovery in 1881

of this

Strangely Dilapidated old Bible

Created Much Excitement

It was  claimed to be the Original

Chatterton Family Bible

Complete with Handwritten Details.


Vitriolic Arguments Ensued

In a magazine of the day

The Athanaeum

For & Against

The Genuineness of the Bible

Enter the Protagonists

John Taylor

The Bristol Librarian & Author


John Ingram,

Author of The Life of Thomas Chatterton

William George

A Famous Bristol Book Dealer

 Printed a Pamphlet About the Argument

New Facts Relating to The Chatterton Family.

His Family Donated the Bible

To Bristol Library in 1900

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

The Challenge

Figure out which Edition

The Family Bible is


Analyse the handwriting

Determine who wrote what!

There are five Contenders

Chatterton's Mother & Father

Mary, his sister; his Grandmother

And young Thomas himself

 Does the Bible contain 

The earliest sample of Thomas's handwriting?

Examine the Manuscript

Decide for Yourself!

Heads up!

When you Analyse old documents

It is as well to note the career of

Mark Hofmann

The American counterfeiter & murderer

His Counterfeiting Shenanigans

Should give you pause for thought!  


Hofmann was in Bristol in 1973

For his two-year Mormon mission


While in Bristol

He Bought an Old Bible from a shop 

On the Christmas Steppes

It formed part of one of his infamous Frauds

Upon the Mormon Church. 


He probably helped himself to

Blank pages from Antiquarian books

In Bristol Reference library

It is Likely that Chatterton

Was his inspiration

And why he chose Bristol

for his mission