top of page

Key People

Rev. Alexander Catcott

1725 - 1799

(Brother of George Catcott)

Temple Church - The famous leaning Tower

We have no portrait of Alexander Catcott, brother of  George Symes Catcott, and Martha Catcott.   The Reverend Alexander Catcott was vicar of Temple Church in Bristol (shown above), which is a short walk from Chatterton's home. The Chatterton family would have attended some services at the church and be well known to Alexander.  Much of the church was destroyed in the Blitz, but the tower and some walls of the church remain to this day.


It would seem that the Rev. Alexander was not fooled by Chatterton and believed that Chatterton had the ability to create Rowley.   However, according to George Catcott, when Chatterton gave Alexander a copy of 'Rowley’s Fragment of a Sermon on the Divinity of the Holie Spryte,' it was in 'modern' English transcribed by Chatterton, rather than the 'original.' This was, supposedly, because Alexander was not used to reading obsolete English, which gives the impression that Alexander may have accepted this work as an original by Rowley - click the above link to read more of George's memories.

At some point Alexander must have done something to annoy Chatterton, perhaps he was being a little high-handed and, as a result, he became the butt of one of Chatterton's satirical attacks, in an Epistle to the Reverend Mr. Catcott.

Epistle to Mr Catcott.jpg

Chatterton's Epistle to Alexander Catcott :  View

Rev. Alex. Catcott's Works


Remarks on the Second Part of The Lord Bishop of Clogher's ... Mosaic account of the Creation and Deluge, 1756 :  No online View

However, I do have a copy and will supply images of selected pages if requested.

A Treatise on the Deluge 1758 smaller.jpg

A Treatise on the Deluge, 1768  :  View


This volume includes, on page 419, a paraphrase of psalm 104 by Alexander Stopford Catcott (father of Alex and George Catcott).

(As an aside, a previous owner of my copy of the 1768 edition of A Treatise on the Deluge, was Reverend Philip Homan, died 1848 : View    He owned Shurock house, now a ruin : View   I have added this to check later if it is relevant)

Catcott's  Treatise on the Deluge View
Chatterton's African Eclogues View
Coleridge's Kubla Khan View
Analysed by Wylie Sypher 

pmla wylie sypher1939 snip.jpg

Chatterton's African Eclogues and the Deluge by Wylie Sypher

PMLA, Vol. 54, No. 1 (Mar., 1939), pp. 246-260 (15 pages)  : Available online at Jstor : View

Extract from the above: 

Some have credited Coleridge's Kubla Khan with a 'magic' lacking to almost every other poem in English. Though more finished in its artistry, Kubla Khan is, however, no more 'magic' than parts of Chatterton's African Eclogues; in fact, as E. H. W. Meyerstein, in his excellent Life of Chatterton, was apparently the first critic to point out, there are sundry arresting likenesses between these Eclogues and Kubla Khan. Since the Rowley poet is in his strange 'romantic' way similar to Coleridge, is it possible to penetrate the 'shaping spirit of imagination' behind the African Eclogues, as Mr. Lowes has penetrated the imagination behind Kubla Khan? The purpose of this discussion is to show the manifold effects of the Rev. Alexander Catcott's Treatise on the Deluge on three 'magic' poems.

top of page
bottom of page