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William Barrett

1733   - Oct 13, 1789

William Barrett's Works  :  View

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William Barrett, at 31

By Jan van Rymsdyk. 

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The History and Antiquities of the City of Bristol 

William Barrett

William Barrett, along with George Symes Catcott, played a central role in the Chatterton - Rowley story. 


Barrett' life's work, or rather, the work that consumed much of his leisure time, 'The  History and Antiquities of the City of Bristol...' is a highly important Chatterton source. The book has 704 pages of which around 123 contain either the first printing of a number of Chatterton's works or references to Chatterton.


 I have analysed the 123 pages and added additional interesting and illuminating information.  In my eyes the book also contains insights into the thinking of both Barrett and, perhaps, the development of Chatterton.

The following link gives you the choice to view the 123 pages complete with my analysis or go directly to Barrett's 704 pages online.

'The  History and Antiquities of the City of Bristol...'  :   View

William Barrett' House

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Chatterton was a regular visitor to Barrett's house. He would have ambled through the front door and on into the inner sanctum to assist Barrett with his History of Bristol. In return Barrett assisted Chatterton with his own works as is shown by Barrett's annotations on some of Chatterton's manuscripts, where Barrett 'corrected' some of Chatterton's writings.

And yet when Chatterton was in London and asked Barrett for a reference he refused - surely this tells us that Barrett did not trust Chatterton!  

William Barrett Memorial

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William Barrett is buried in St Andrew's church, High Ham, Gloucestershire. Now, did they meet his wishes as declared in his Will?  I guess not!  

"Lastly I desire that wherever I shall happen to die that my corps may be roll'd up in an old Blanket and put in a common shell or coffin and that it be buried in any churchyard nearest and adjoining and carried to the grave by six of the poor men of the parish who shall receive five shillings each and a crape hatband each for their trouble and a large flat stone only put over ye grave inscrib'd with my name."

In addition it does look as if he was not overly concerned about his name living in 'after times,' unlike his friend, George Symes Catcott.

William Barrett

Correspondence : Works : Publications

Biography of William Barrett  :  View

Dictionary of National Biography.

The First Historians of Bristol : View

A small pamphlet from The Bristol Branch of the Historical Association. Barrett is included thanks to his 'The History & Antiquities of Bristol'.

Biographies & Works of Thomas Chatterton : View

A link to multiple editions of biographies of Chatterton, which contain a wealth of detail about William Barrett.

The  History and Antiquities of the City of Bristol :    View the Chatterton pages

Barrett's book is a highly important source, which contains the first printings of a number of Chatterton's works.

The book has 704 pages of which around 123 contain either Chatterton's works or references to Chatterton.

The above link gives you the choice to view the 123 pages with my analysis, complete with additional interesting and illuminating information, or to go directly to Barrett's 704 pages online.   

Review of Barrett's  'History and Antiquities...'  by The Monthly Review, 1791  :  View

A Calendar of Bristol Deeds (Chiefly Relating to Bristol) by Francis B. Bickley View

The following is from Meyerstein p. 116n : '...certain thirteenth century Indulgences' deeds 14, 34, and 36, found in Canynges Coffer by William Barrett.  No. 14 has been treated with galls, as we know Barrett to have treated some of Chatterton's "originals." ' 

Barrett's Correspondence

Working on populating this page

Correspondence with George Catcott. 

Letter 3 from Catcott to Barrett  :  View

Correspondence with Chatterton. 

Letter from Chatterton to Barrett : The Clayfield Letter  View

Barrett Works etc
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