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Key People

Alexander Stopford Catcott

1692 - 1749

We have no portrait of Alexander Stopford Catcott, father of  George Symes Catcott & Reverend Alexander Catcott, and their sisters Martha & Augusta.

Stopford died three years before Chatterton was born but still managed to influence him through his sons and his paraphrased version of psalm 104, which was first published in The Universal Magazine, in 1759, however we don't need to refer back that far, because Chatterton had his own copy of Alexander Catcott's A Treatise on the Deluge (A gift, we assume, from Alexander), which includes the second printing of Stopford's psalm 104.

Chatterton's copy of the Treatise was rediscovered in a rather remarkable way, which is fortunate as Chatterton had written some of his works directly onto the endpapers of the book  : View

Alexander Stopford Catcott Paraphrased Psalm 104
paraphrased psalm 104 stopford p.419

Chatterton's Friendship with the Catcotts

The Chatterton family attended services at St Mary Redcliffe and at Temple Church, so they clearly would be known to each other. Then, of course, there is Chatterton's The Mayor Passing over the old bridge, which, when published in Felix Farley's Bristol Journal, brought him in direct contact with George Catcott.  Through his friendship with George he gained access to the libraries of the Catcott brothers, where he must have had the opportunity to read Stopford's works.

According to Chatterton's sister Mary, in a letter to Herbert Croft, which Croft published in  Love and Madness (p.144), Chatterton at, 'About his 10th year he began (with the trifle my mother allowed him for pocket money) to hire books from the circulating library and we were informed by the usher made rapid progress in arithmatick. Between his 11th and 12th year he wrote a caterlogue of  the books he had read to the number of 70.  History and divinity were the chief subjects.' 

Click the title pages below to read Stopford's various works.  Apparently some 'experts' claimed that The Court of Love was a work by Chaucer - you now have the chance to read the book and decide for yourself.  Alexander Stopford Catcott was also a contributor to OVID'S Metamorphoses, book 13, p.435.

Court of Love Alexander Stopford Catcott
An Answer to observation on a sermon
Alexander Stopford Catcott The Supreme and Inferiour Elahim A Sermon
Alexander Stopford Catcott translation of Ovid's metamorphoses  page 435

According to Wiki :

Alexander Stopford Catcott L.L.B, 1692–1749, was headmaster of Bristol Grammar School from 1722 to 1743/4. 
He earned a Bachelor of Laws degree but chose not to enter law; rather, he was ordained as deacon and priest, and gave up a fellowship of St John's College, Oxford, to take up the position of headmaster at Bristol Grammar School, where he and his predecessor William Goldwin were responsible for increasing enrollment from 20 to 70. From 1743 to his death in 1749 he was the rector of St Stephen's Church, Bristol.  His piety was admired by John Wesley, and he was considered, by a local antiquary, to be "a good poet, profound linguist, well skilled in Hebrew and Scripture philosophy, and a judicious schoolmaster".  Catcott also preached at St Mark's Church, Bristol, where he was appointed in 1729.

Catcott had been corresponding since 1733 with John Hutchinson, who saw the Old Testament as a repository of scientific as well as divine knowledge. Catcott preached a sermon in St Mark's Church on 16 April 1735 (The Supreme and Inferior Elahim, published London, 1736); this sermon, preached before Chief Justice Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke, provoked "the first serious debate about Hutchinsonianism and the scientific evidence contained in the Old Testament".  He preached another controversial sermon in August 1735, this one presenting linguistic analysis based on Hutchinson's work. 

One theory of Catcott's, prompted by a challenge made by Hutchinson, attempted to explain the earth's declination and its position in relation to the sun; Catcott proposed that the sun and the moon emitted particles of light that held the earth in equilibrium, eliminating the need for accepting the theory of gravity.

Read the above on Wiki :    View

Links to Chatterton's Works & Correspondence

   Call it what you will, authentic, doubtful, lost, or plainly wrong - if it was linked with Chatterton it will be included in Chatterton's Works & Correspondence.  This will be the base point from which we can examine every piece of work, and add notes and links accordingly.  

Authentic Works  : View

Lost Works  :  View                                                

Works of Doubtful Authenticity   :  View

Wrongly Attributed Works   :   View

All Correspondence in Chronological Order  :   View

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