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Henry Burgum

1739 - 1789

Henry Burgum Pewterer, Bristol
Thomas Chatterton's Burgum Pedigree coat of armspedigree burgham 3.jpg

1. Portrait of Henry Burgum by John Simmons.  2. Burgum's coat of arms, created & painted by Chatterton.

Henry Burgum is shown posing with a prized possession, a folio of Handel's music.  In 1752, at the age of 13, Henry became a Pewterer's apprentice.  In 1765 he went into business with George Catcott, making all kinds of pewter, from plates & bowls to lidded tankards & inkstands. Now, here's areal treat for you all;  Alyson & Mike Marsden's delightful article about : Burgum & Catcott, Pewterers of Bristol.  And that's not all, you might also like to visit the Burgum Family website to view their biography of Henry, but do bear in mind that some of the 'facts' will conflict with our own current knowledge of the Chatterton story.

It seems that Chatterton saw Burgum as an easy target, and came up with a plan to present him with a fake pedigree, for which Burgum paid him five shillings. Chatterton must have been flushed with delight and promised burgum that he would have much more about the history of his family in due course.  The promised second instalment arrived soon after, complete with poems supposedly written by Henry's ancestor John Burgum, and a second payment of five shillings (according to Joseph Cottle) was duly paid.

Even though Chatterton perpetrated this somewhat cruel hoax, he also wrote about Burgum in glowing terms in his poem Kew Gardens: 

Thomas Chatterton's poem Kew Gardens Henry Burgum

'Account of the Family of the De Bergham's'

Chatterton's Original Handwritten Manuscript

Written 1768/9 : Published 1788 / 1803

Chatterton's account of the Family of the De Burgham's Pedigree Book 1

Book  (1)  : Section 1

Z6 Z1 Title Contents Label.jpg

Book  (1) : Section 2

Chatterton's Continuation of the Account of the Family of the

Book  (2)  Front cover

z8 title snip.jpg

Book  (2) :  Rear cover

Account of the Family of the De Berghams (Aka: De Burgham's; Burgum) :  Written in two exercise books with central staples and marbled covers.  Each of the two books have been additionally bound within red covers with white labels. The labels have been attached and annotated incorrectly, which adds confusion and are therefore best ignored.

The two books are held by Bristol Reference Library: Book (1) ref. No. B20927; and Book (2) ref. No. B21640. 

Contents of  Book  (1)   (In two sections) :

Book (1), Section 2, contains:

The two works above start from the cover and continue to the middle of the book . They are not part of the Account of the De Berghams.  After writing the works above, Chatterton flipped the book over and wrote the first part of the Account of the...De Burgham's, see below.

Book (1), Section 1, contains:

       This work is written from the cover to the middle of the book​​.


        ( A separate, loose item, on parchment) ; see top of page.

Note also : It seem seems that Cottle, or whoever attached the labels to the covers of the books, placed them 'arse about face. '  I make no excuses for my colourful language, for when raving in the Lunacy of ink, I catch the Pen and publish what I think! 

Now, putting myself into a state of Aluna, I can see through Joseph Cottle's eyes: I lay the new cover for Book (1) on my desk.  I attach the blank labels to the centre of the front and rear covers.  I then lay Book (1) alongside the new cover and proceed to flip through the pages as I mark the contents on the front label.  I then flip the covers and Book (1) and do the same for the back of the book.  I then give the book to an assistant to attach the cover - I leave the rest to your own state of Aluna.

Contents of Book  (2) 

Account of the Family of the De Burgham's (2nd Part)  : View

(Continuation of the Account of the Family of the

De Burgham's from the Norman Conquest to this time )

Which includes:

Also, one page of 'forged' signatures written by:

  • William Henry Ireland, the Shakespeare Forger : View

That's the end of  the two books of Chatterton's 'Account of the Family of the De Bergham's'

Spooky Note:

One of Chatterton’s sources for his Account of the Family of the De Bergham’s is the 'Baronettage of England.'  See page 19, of volume 1, which contains two mentions of the name Thomas Chatterton; and then take a look at page 20, which mentions Sir Baldwin:


  • Baronettage of England, 1720, by Arthur Collins - volume 1 : View


  • Baronettage of England, 1720, by Arthur Collins - volume 2 : View

Burgum Correspondence

(More to come, when time allows.)

Burgum to the Public regarding the mistreatment of a worker
Account o the Family of the De Berghams
The Tournament. An Interlude & Gouler's Requiem
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