The Burgum family history society is a member of the Guild of one name studies and researches the names

Henry Burgum (1739-1789)

"Genealogy", or family history research, is nothing new as Henry Burgum found to his great cost in the 1700's. I suggest it contributed to his downfall. His true and remarkable story is a tale of rags to riches, a fake pedigree, of prison, and the suicide of a boy poet.

Henry Burgum was born at Littledean, a small village in the Forest of Dean, in 1739. Henry came from humble beginnings, but his move from the Forest of Dean to the City of Bristol early on in his life had a more dramatic effect on him than he could have otherwise imagined. He was apparently aided by one of Edward Colston's charities, and became apprenticed to Allen Bright, a Pewterer on 27th August 1752. He was thirteen and the apprenticeship was to last seven years. The apprentice records indicate that Henry's father was also called Henry Burgum.

Neither of Henry's parents left a Will, and both died intestate. On 22nd December 1759, shortly after completing his apprenticeship, Henry was granted an Administration on the Goods and Chattels of Henry Burgum (senior) and Elizabeth (Philips) Burgum. Before their deaths, it seems they had been living in the Forest village of Ruardean. Perhaps this inheritance was enough to set Henry up in business. Bristol was a seething, successful city at this time and one of the principal gateways to Africa, America, and the Far East. The Slave Trade was one of Bristol's most successful industries. According to Richard Smith's "Chattertoniana", Henry is also said to have pounded the mortar for old William Dyer, an Apothecary, who lived on Bristol Bridge. If this were so, it was most likely before his apprenticeship.

It is said that he "rose by his own industry" and the next we hear of young Henry is in 1764 when he was about 25. He placed an advertisement in Felix Farley's Journal, a leading Bristol newspaper of the time; it reads........

HENRY BURGUM, Pewterer, Worm Maker, etc. Being removed from near the Bell in St Thomas Street, to his new house at the corner of St Thomas Street and Redcliff Street, facing the new Bridge; takes this first opportunity of acquainting all persons in general, and his friends in particular, that the merchants trading to Africa and Carolina may be reasonably supplied with every kind of goods in their respective trades; as may also the West India merchants, and Distillers at home, with all sizes of worms; and Country Braziers with Pewter for sale. He likewise sells all sorts of pewter, brass, and copper wares for kitchen furniture. Those who please to honour him with their commands, may depend on every article as cheap and good as can be desired. He likewise returns his thanks to those Gentlemen, who have already been so kind as to favour him with their orders, and hopes (not doubting to give satisfaction) a continuance of their future favours, which will always be gratefully acknowledged. The house he has now left is to be either lett, or sold.

Henry was evidently successful as a Pewterer and entered into a partnership with George Catcott, son of the Master of Bristol Grammar School, A.S. Catcott. They worked as pewterers at No.2 Bridge-place, later named Bridge-parade, facing Bristol Bridge. Bristol Bridge was a wide, public thoroughfare supporting several buildings. By the 18th century, the density of these buildings had increased substantially and pressure of traffic, both across and under the bridge, had compelled the civic authorities to modernise it. All the buildings on the bridge were demolished and the base of the bridge was widened and strengthened.

This modernisation was actually taking place just outside the premises of Henry Burgum and his partner, George Catcott. Indeed, a year before the bridge was completed, George Catcott (who always wanted to be the centre of attention) paid five guineas for the privilege of riding his horse over loose planks that had been temporarily laid there.

Here are two advertisements, promoting the wares of Burgum and Catcott. The first, in Felix Farley's Journal dated 23rd March 1765, reads -

BURGUM and CATCOTT, Pewterers, Worm-Makers, etc. At the corner of St Thomas and Redcliff Street, Fronting the New Bridge, Bristol. Take this first opportunity of acquainting all persons in general, and their friends in particular, that they may be reasonably supplied with every kind of goods in the above Businesses; as may also the Merchants trading to Africa and North America; the Distillers at home with Worms of all sizes; and Country-Braziers with pewter for sale. They likewise sell all sorts of Pewter, Brass, and copperwares, for kitchen furniture. Those gentlemen, merchants, or others, who please to confer their favours will be gratefully acknowledged.

The second, dated 10th August 1765, reads-

OVAL PEWTER DISHES best superfine hard metal and newest fashion, are made and sold 25% under the old price, by Burgum and Catcott, Pewterers and Worm-Makers, at their warehouse, the corner of Redcliff Street, facing the New Bridge, Bristol.

Just along from Bristol Bridge is St Thomas' Church. Although it still stands, it is no longer a parish church. Here, in 1765, Henry married Betty Copner. The parish register indicates that the witnesses were Sarah Tucker and George Symes Catcott.

Amongst the Chatterton papers, a picture exists showing Henry and his wife on a set of miniatures. A date of 1759 is shown on the back of the picture and relates to some other papers - possibly lost. It is not known if these miniatures still exist today. In Felix Farley's Journal for 7th December 1765, an entry read - "Saturday last was married at St Thomas's Church, Mr Henry Burgum, an eminent pewterer, to Miss Betty Copner, who besides a handsome fortune, is rich in every requisite that makes the honourable state amiable.

Thrice happy they in nuptial bonds conjoined, Where the man's prudent and the woman's kind, Long may their torch by winds unruffled burn Then late, yes very late, fill up one urn."

Henry's business, and his standing in local society, appear to have progressed by leaps and bounds and by 1767, he had become Deputy-Governor and Treasurer of the Corporation of the Poor and President of the Grateful Society.

The Grateful Society was founded about 1757 and its task was the placing out of "poor Bristol boys to trades, with a view of rendering many who are deserted by their parents, and unable to work, useful members of society." Henry had experienced, first hand, the Apprenticeship system and the considerable influence it could have on one's life. In 1767, with Henry Burgum as President, the Society had 36 boys in their apprenticeship. On 13th November 1767, the Society met at All Saints' Church to hear divine service and a sermon, before adjourning to Hooper's Hall in King's Street for dinner. £70 was raised in a collection made after dinner.

Also in 1767, Henry Burgum had his portrait painted by John Simmons, a well-known Bristol Artist. He sits large and pompous holding one of his prized music books. Music was to play a significant part in Henry's life.

I learned of the existence of this painting, from an article written by William George, in 1879. It had been reprinted from "Gloucestershire Notes and Queries" in the Stroud Journal, and stated that the painting had once hung in the Picture Galley of Mr Davey, Printseller, of Broadstreet (later to become the Daily Press offices). The same Mr Davey found a lady contemplating the portrait, and later in much distress and crying. She claimed to be a descendent of the family, that the picture had once been in their possession, and that she still owned the waistcoat. Today the painting hangs in the Georgian House - part of the Bristol Museum.

As an aside to his article, William George also discussed a large map of Gloucestershire, made by Taylor, dated 1777. One house, at Yate, was annotated "Mr Burgum" and evidence suggests, as William George had speculated, that this house had indeed belonged to Henry Burgum.

A pewter plate, made by Henry Burgum in 1767, sits in the Powerhouse Museum, in Sydney, Australia. The inscription reads:- The Gift of HENRY and BETTY BURGUM to SARAH BATT on her Marriage with JAMES GAITE at FLAX-BOURTON Somerset, the 6th September 1767. (Records show that the plate was donated to the Powerhouse Museum by a Mr J. S Gaite, of Hurstville, NSW, Australia in 1926).

Henry Burgum living a very comfortable life in one of the most prosperous cities in Europe. He must have felt quite secure, living amongst the wealthy merchants and businessmen of Bristol. He could not have guessed just how dramatically his life was to change.

One character who was to influence Henry's life was one Thomas Chatterton. Chatterton was born in the School House, Pile Street, on 20th November 1753. The building was actually part of Pile Street Free School, where his father had been a Master. Chatterton never knew his father, who died before he was born. The young boy was considered a failure, both in temperament (for he was moody and introverted) and at school (where he was considered dim-witted). Although sympathetic towards Sarah Chatterton, Thomas' mother, the school masters of Pile Street School returned her young son as a lost cause. He spent his early years living close to St Mary's, Redcliff. (Queen Elizabeth the 1st had once called this, the fairest church in her realm.) The church had a great influence on his life and within its shadow, and with some assistance from his mother and sister, he learned to read.

Eventually, at the age of eight, Chatterton was nominated to Colston's, the Blue Coat School, in Bristol. Chatterton was delighted at this opportunity, for he had developed an insatiable appetite for reading, to the extent that his mother worried that it might affect his health. His enthusiasm, however, was short lived. The regime was strict, and heavily oriented towards religious orthodoxy. The boy did not suffer fools gladly, pupils and masters alike, and instead of being a spring-board to greater things, Chatterton began to regard Colston's School as a strait jacket.

At 14, Chatterton left school, and on the same day became apprenticed to Mr John Lambert, a scrivener. Once again, he found himself confined and restricted. His work hours were from 8am to 8 pm, six days a week, with just two hours to himself before bed at ten. He was paid no money, just given food and lodging which involved eating with the servants, and sharing a bed. The job was not demanding, however, and Chatterton spent more of his time reading, or writing.

On Sundays, Chatterton would rush home to his mother and sister, or rather to his attic room where he could continue with his own studies. On one visit, he came across some old scrap paper, used by his mother as threadpapers. Whether this is discovery was made while he was at school, or later, when he was working for Lambert is not known for certain. Anyway, he examined the paper with interest, noting that the writing was both old and in a different language style to the one he was familiar with. His mother had two boxes, full of the old papers, considered worthless, and originally brought into the home by Chatterton's father. To the young boy, these papers were a treasure, and he took them away to study them.

The papers had come from the Muniment Room, above the porchway in St Mary's Church. Some of the papers were hundreds of years old and had been stored in old chests. The church authorities had broken into the chests after the keys were lost, and much of the contents were considered worthless. There they laid, inside the chests, some scattered on the floor, until the sexton, a relative of the family, removed some of them.

Chatterton found the papers fascinating, and studied in detail the style and language of English used centuries before. He developed a knowledge of ancient documents and records, and invented an imaginary medieval monk named Thomas Rowley. Using antique spelling and vocabulary, he created poems ostensibly written by Thomas Rowley. Amongst those deceived were William Barrett, who was collecting historical data for his "History of Bristol". Although pronounced forgeries later, the Rowley Poems were contested for nearly a hundred years.

Chatterton's first fabrication, published in Felix Farley's Journal in 1768, was an account of the mayor's first passing over the old bridge in 1248. It caused quite a stir in Bristol, and prompted interested readers to seek out the author.

One person, with more than a passing interest was Henry's partner George Catcott. The Rev Alexander Catcott, vicar of Temple Church, was Catcott's brother and it was he who brought this fated group together. Chatterton used his associations with these gentlemen initially to gain access to their libraries. He still had an insatiable appetite for books, and George Catcott, in particular, boasted a handsome collection of old books. Later, he realised that any one of these gentlemen might become his patron; or at least a source of income.

With his Forest of Dean accent, his rough, but good-natured vulgarity, and his lack of sophistication, Henry Burgum frequently found himself taunted by his, so called, superior, more cultured friends. He desperately sort acceptance from his peers and shared in their pomposity. Having his portrait painted was part of the "Social Game", this particular picture is of an old engraving, after the portrait by Thomas Beach. Patronisation of the Arts, or the church, would be additional feathers in ones cap, and an example could be found in Backwell Church. It reads -

"This explanation of the old Saxon inscription near the alter in this church is the gift of Mr Henry Burgum, of Bristol Anno Domini 1770. viz. Within this chapel lieth Elizabeth the 1st foundress of this chapel, ...late wife of Sir John Chaworth, knight, and before that wife to Sir Walter Rodney, knight, and sister to Sir William Compton, knight, which Elizabeth departed the 3rd day of June in the year of our Grace 1536."

It may well be that Burgum was compensating for his poor beginnings in Gloucestershire, but one way or another, Henry was coming across as rather fond of his, almost aristocratic, status. Certainly, that what Thomas Chatterton thought of him and took full advantage. He told Henry that amongst the parchments he had found in St Mary's, Redcliff, he had found documents relating to the Burgum Family Tree, and the contents seemed very promising indeed.

Burgum was delighted. He doesn't appear to have questioned how his family-tree came to be there, or how this particular pedigree was connected to his lowly family. Burgum needn't have felt to bad. Chatterton was a charming young man, wholly convincing, and in his time, fooled many educated people, including some historians.

Here is a copy of the fictitious family-tree. It was called the "De Burgham Pedigree", and extended back to the time of William the Conqueror. Chatterton had supposedly transcribed the information from delicate documents, and copied them into an exercise book.

The book suggested that Henry was descended from "some of the noblest houses in the kingdom." It read - "An account of the Family of De Bergham, from the Norman Conquest to this time; collected from original records, Tournament Rolls, and the Heralds of March and Garter Records, by Thomas Chatterton."

The "Account" begins with Simon de Seyncte Lys, alias Senliz and married Matilda, daughter of Waltheof, Earl of Northumberland, Northampton, and Huntingdon. He came into England with William the Conqueror, who after the execution of Waltheof for High Treason, created him Earl of Northampton in the year of Christ, MLXXV (1075) by Deed, etc. and so it goes on.

There were various references, sources, and notes in the margins, and at the bottom of some of the pages to make it seem more authentic. One of Chatterton's great tricks when writing a fake poem, was to leave out a word, with a note saying he was unable to read the original document. Some of Chatterton's biographers suggest that others were involved in the conspiracy. It seems certain that, for one reason or another, Barrett, the Bristol historian, assisted Chatterton with Latin and French translations for the Pedigree. George Catcott also falls under suspicion, but whether he was an unwitting accomplice, or mischievous conspirator is not known.

Henry was totally fooled. The news that his ancestors were knights and nobles, was music to his ears. He thanked young Thomas, and gave him five shillings for his trouble. Chatterton obviously thought there was more mileage in it, because he went back and produced a second volume bringing the genealogy forward to the reign of James II (died 1701). This was as close as Chatterton dared go, having little or no knowledge of Henry Burgum's immediate ancestors. This second volume also contained a poem, written, Chatterton said, by John De Burgham in 1320. It was, in fact, one of his infamous Rowley poems called The Romaunte of the Cnyghte. Our Henry gave Chatterton another five shillings, feeling his humble beginnings were far behind him.

One other rather curious entry appears in Felix Farley's Journal, this one dated 17th March 1770. It reads-

To the Public Whereas a villainous report hath been spread in this city and country adjacent, that I had most inhumanely and cruelly treated one of my Apprentices, by striking him with an iron bar, breaking his jaw bone, and two or three ribs; nay, some have been so daring as to say he died of the wounds. Now I call upon, and ask, any and every person, who have been instrumental in propagating this calumny, to answer me in the Bristol News Paper in their own name, this one plain question, Is the above report, or any part of it true ? All those who chose to convince themselves to the contrary, are very welcome to call at my house, and bear the true state of the case from the young man's own mouth, or if calling at my house may be though any way disagreeable, I will give the apprentice leave to wait on anyone, at their own house, when and where they will have a fair opportunity to ask him such questions as they please.
HENRY BURGUM. Bristol Bridge, March 13th, 1770

Burgum's intelligence is surely in question? In an attempt to protect his grandiose reputation he chose to expose the accusations against him to a wider audience. Was this showmanship, or vanity gone mad?

Content that life had given him the one thing he had lacked all these years - aristocratic status, Henry grew more and more successful. In turn, he continued is patronage of the Arts. Music was of particular interest to Burgum, and he was said to be "a generous and enthusiastic supporter of the city's musical activities. He was particularly fond of the music of Handel. He owned music-sheets, impressively bound in red morocco, with the titles and his name, Henry Burgum, embossed in gold letters on the outside covers. The life-size painting mentioned earlier, now hanging in the Georgian House, shows Henry proudly holding one of his prize music books, "The Messiah".

Thomas Kerslake, a Bristol Bookseller, in a letter to Sir Daniel Wilson, says he once bought a library in which he found two chests containing Concert sets of music for about 20 instruments. The chests had partitions for each volume. One set, he thought was the "Messiah", while the other the works of Haydn. These were the same books, bound in red morocco. They were clearly of great importance to Henry and may well have been for a musical club, which he entertained at his own house. (See postscript at bottom of page).

How long it was, before Burgum smelt a rat as regards the pedigree, is not known. We do know that he took the Pedigree to the College of Heralds, and as one book put it "To his lasting and bitter mortification........he was told it was a fabrication from beginning to end."

Meanwhile, Chatterton was having problems of his own. He had extended his search for a patron, and sent some of his Rowley poems to Horace Walpole, an influential man of letters. Walpole was initially taken in, but had access to experts who declared the poems to be forgeries. Walpole was furious and did much damage to his own reputation, later in life with his bitter attacks on Chatterton's character. Walpole also failed to recognise the quality of the poems, which were later seen to be the product of a great talent. The fact that the poems were not Rowleys did not diminish their worth. Chatterton had written them and talent was great. His difficulty was getting someone to recognise what he already knew. Walpole rejected him.

Satire was very much in vogue at this time, and Chatterton's wit had a particularly sharp cutting edge. The boy had felt hemmed-in at school, and grew to despise the regime of enforced religion. He did not so much reject God, as the Church that peddled its message so forcibly. Life as an Apprentice, was little better in providing Chatterton with the freedom he sort. In his frustration, he cruelly attacked (in satire), those who upset him.

Amongst his most amazing creations, was Chatterton's Will. Bear in mind this boy was just 17 years old. It is doubtful that Chatteron had it in his mind to kill himself, but he sat down in a fit of mood and wrote a mock Will. His bitterness was, in part, directed towards Henry Burgum - he was in need of money and begged Burgum to help him. Burgum initially agreed, but later saw a side of Chatterton that worried him, and changed his mind.

The Will began with Chatterton lampooning the gullible pewterer with considerable bitterness.

Burgum I thank thee thou hast let me see
That Bristol has impressed her stamp on thee
Thy generous Spirit emulates the May'rs,
Thy generous spirit with thy Bristol's pairs
Gods ! what would Burgum give to get a name,
And snatch his blundering dialect from shame!
What would he give to hand his memory down
To Time's remotest boundary ? - A crown.
Would you ask more, his swelling face looks blue;
Futurity he rates at two pounds two.
Well, Burgum, take thy laurel to thy brow;
With a rich saddle decorate a sow;
Strut in Iambics, totter in an ode,
Promise, and never pay, and be the mode.

After this, there followed attacks on Catcott and Barrett. Then to the Will, itself.

This is the last Will and Testament- of me Thomas Chatterton of the City of Bristol being sound in Body or it is the fault of my last surgeon-the soundness of my mind the Coroner and Jury are to be judges of - desiring them to take notice that the most perfect Masters of Human Nature in Bristol distinguish me by the title of the Mad Genius therefore if I do a mad action it is conformable to every section of my life which all savoured of Insanity.

(Then after some details for burial....)

Item. I give and bequeath all my vigour and fire of youth to Mr George Catcott being sensible he is in most want of it- Item. From the same charitable motive I give and bequeath unto the Revd Mr Camplin Senior all my humility. To Mr Burgum all my prosody and grammar (a dig at his speech), likewise one moiety (half) of my modesty, the other moiety to any lady who can prove without blushing that she wants that valuable commodity.

It goes on to say...... I leave my religion to Dr Cutts Barton, Dean of Bristol hereby empowering the Subsacrist to strike him on the head when he goes to sleep in church- My powers of utterance I give to the Revd Mr Boughton, hoping he will employ them to a better purpose than reading lectures on the immortality of the soul- I leave the Revd Mr Catcott some little of my freethinking that he may put on the spectacles of reason and see how vilely he is duped in believing the Scripture literally. I wish he and his brother would know how far I am their real enemy, etc., etc..
and so it goes on.

Item. I leave the young ladies all the letters they have had from me assuring them that they need be under no apprehensions from the appearance of my ghost for I die for none of them.

Finally at the end, he says - I leave my mother and sister to the protection of my friends if I have any.

It is impossible to say exactly what was in the mind of this tormented boy and whether he seriously intended to take his life. However the venom with which he attacks friend and foe alike, is astonishing and remember, all this from a seventeen year old boy. The Will was discovered by Lambert, his employer, and angered and upset him and his family. Chatterton was fired - released from his apprenticeship - and that may well have been Chatterton's motive. He had decided to go to London, to deal with publishers first hand. To be discovered, to make his fortune, and pour gifts upon his mother and sister. To release the genius within him.

Burgum already knew that his Pedigree was a fake, but may not have been aware that Chatterton had lampooned him in the recently discovered Will. He, with four of his friends, lent Chatterton a Guinea each - Five guineas in all - in order to allow the young poet to make his way to London. Maybe, Henry thought he would be well shot of him.

Chatterton went to London seeking fame and fortune. Tragically, his timing was unluckily poor. For four months he wrote for eleven of the various journals there, but his abilities, still unrecognised, meant that he could not command a fair price for his efforts.

At this time, there was a constitutional dispute between the King (George III) and Parliament. The King had decided to increase the authority of the Crown by choosing his own Ministers to run the Country come what may. There was an outcry, and political activists like John Wilkes were imprisoned for libel when they spoke against the King and his Government. Wilkes stood for Parliament, and won an overwhelming victory to the House of Commons. The King's Government simply falsified the returns, declaring the victory, null and void.

Wilkes had a great friend and supporter, in William Beckford, Lord Major of London. At one stage, Beckford, took an interest in Chatterton's satirical work. The young man's hopes were lifted, only to be dashed when Beckford died. He wrote a bill of account, which itself was rejected for publication.

Lost by his death on this essay - £1 11s 6d.
Gained in Elegies and Essays - £5 5s
Am glad he is dead by - £3 13s 6d

Chatterton probably didn't mean it, but things were turning against him once again. Wilkes and his followers carried out much of the campaign in the Newspapers of the day, but the Government imposed censorship, and arrested several of the leading Editors. This meant that Chatterton's biting satire was dangerous to publish. Also the summer months were a time to retreat from the dusty City and retire to the country. For the publishing world, times were quiet and uncertain. Chatterton was too proud to take on a job, and remained optimistic in his letters home to his mother and sister. Finally, after a long struggle against starvation and the turbulence in his mind, he could continue no more. On 24th August, 1770, Thomas Chatterton poisoned himself with a phial of water and arsenic. His death would not have been as peaceful as portrayed in the picture, painted by Henry Wallis in 1855, which now hangs in the Tate Gallery. Instead the death would have been an agonisingly slow, convulsive death. Chatterton was buried without fuss in the grounds of Shoe Lane Workhouse, never knowing that the President of St John's College, Oxford, Dr Thomas Fry was on his way to Bristol, to seek out the boy genius who had written the mediaeval Rowley poems.

His death gripped the imagination of poets of the Romantic Revival and tributes were paid to his memory by Keats, Shelley, Coleridge, and Wordsworth. Chatterton achieved his fame and dozens of books have been written about him. In 1988, a novel by Peter Ackroyd, loosely based on the Chatterton story reached number one on the Best Seller list.

The next we hear from Burgum is from an entry found in the "Bristol Gazette" 12th August 1773 -

"A robbery. This morning a chest and box were broken open in the house of Mrs Hewston, broker, in Temple Street, and the following things stole thereout belonging to Thomas Weaver, a blind man who turns a wheel at Burgum and Catcott's, Pewterers .......Five guineas reward by Burgum and Catcott."

Business as usual, charity, or more showmanship?

Henry Burgum must have hoped that with the death of Chatterton his ridicule would cease but, in 1774, another Colston-boy named James Thistlewaite introduced himself to the Pewterer. Thistlewaite was an undesirable character who was determined to progress in his own writing career at whatever cost. He tried to make himself an authority on the dead Chatterton, having met him at school. Their paths met later during their apprenticeship days, but Chatterton always had kept Thistlewaite at arms length.

Thistlewaite developed a plan to blackmail a large number of socially prominent figures, by offering to suppress his own material. He was given short thift, and so published anyway. One such work was called "The Consultation; a Mock-Heroic" and was dedicated to Henry Burgum, Esquire, Lord of the Manor of Glastonbury, &c., &c. It was apparently, an astonishing attack on the Tories, and Henry Burgum in particular, and was filled according to William George "with the vilest personal abuse," and was "a frightful specimen of strong language."

Henry had been humiliated by Chatterton, and now it seemed his ghost was returning to haunt him. In January 1775, Henry published a 28 page defence, but found himself subjected to further defamation by Thistlewaite and his publisher, William Pine.

Henry's defence document was called "A Narrative of Facts, in contradiction of the many falsehoods contained in James Thistlewaite's address to Mr Henry Burgum, in Bonner and Middleton's Bristol Journal, of Saturday January 7th 1775, respecting a mock heroic poem entitled The Consultation." The document, itself, was rather long and boring, but his anger was clear.

The document also tells us that Henry was expanding into another business - he was setting himself up in a new distillery in the parish of St Phillip and Jacob called "Fear, Shoreland, Burgum, and Co." located at 136 Redcliff Street. Mention was also made of children, but no further details were given.

Henry spent a great deal of money trying to clear his name and this may have begun the decline that resulted in his becoming bankrupt in 1783. Certainly his business associates began to distance themselves from him. A short entry appears in the Gentleman's Magazine for March of that year. It simply tells us that Henry Burgum, living at Hot Wells, is declared bankrupt.

The former Gloucestershire lad risen to become a respected citizen and businessman in Bristol, only to have his success undermined by a fake pedigree. Both Chatterton and Thistlewaite must have caused Burgum much embarrassment; we can only guess what damage their lampoons and satires had on his standing in Bristol Society. In 1784, the Poll Books place Henry back in St Thomas's, Bristol. There was also a listing for a Henry Burgum, Junior. On the back of the photograph showing the two Burgum miniatures mentioned earlier, a further tragedy is revealed-

Mr & Mrs Henry Burgum of Bristol. It was for this Mr Burgum that Chatterton invented his famous "De Burgham Pedigree" the original of which is in the British Museum. The Burgums left no descendants and the miniatures passed to a sister of Mr Burgums -Mrs Henry Wilkmer of Bristol, about 150 years ago. They have remained in the Wilkmer family ever since and are now owned by Mrs Heaven (nee Wilkmer) wife of Mr Frederick Heaven, of Hessle, near Hull. ...............
Hessle, February 1911.

So according to this account, written by descendants of Burgum, Henry Burgum Junior did not survive his parents.

By 1786, Henry had lost the use of his limbs from Gout and was lodged as an insolvent debtor in the Fleet Prison, London. (Picture right) Eventually he was rescued by the subscriptions of sympathetic friends, and returned to Bristol.

It seemed obvious to me that Chatterton had at least contributed towards Burgum's downfall. Thistlewaite had then driven in the final nail, exposing Burgum to a much wider audience within Bristol Society. But is this true?

The answer is - I don't know. However, I did find a clue. In one of the many books on Chatterton, Meyerstein says that the affairs of George Catcott were in a sadish way in 1782. The business had failed, thanks of course to the "musico-maniac" Burgum, though Catcott was left in charge of it.

The London Gazette, dated 10 August 1779, reported -
"Bristol, July 20, 1779.
Notice is hereby given, that the Co-partnership between John Fear and Henry Burgum, of the City of Bristol, Distillers, Rectifiers, Vinegar-makers, and Dealers in Rum and Foreign Brandy, is by mutual Consent this Day dissolved. All Persons indebted to the said Co-partnership are desired forthwith to pay their respective Debts to Mr. William Dibbins, who is authorised to receive the same; and all Persons to whom the said Co-partnership is indebted are to apply to said William Dibbins for Payment.
Johh Fear."

After searching further, I discovered that Catcott had called his own creditors together in September 1779. In 1783 he wrote to Rowleian, Dr Glynn, and said -"My late partner is now a bankrupt...........He has completely ruined himself, his wife, and family and by his haughty and artful behaviour, made all his best friends, his greatest enemies......... As it is, I shall lose upwards of £2500 by his dishonesty and subtle evasions."

Clearly, Henry and George had fallen out, and George was in no doubt who was to blame for the demise of their business. This is somewhat unfair. Henry's crime, it would seem, was to become involved in his music. He left Catcott largely responsible for the business, and that was his mistake. Catcott has been described as, and I quote "a fussy, superficial, scatter-brained little man, with a long upper lip, and a slight impediment of speech." He knew nothing of business, and nothing of Pewtering. He became known as "Rowley's Midwife".

Burgum, the original pewterer, and the business brains behind his considerable success neglected the business to pursue his other interests, principally his love of music. Perhaps it was music, and not poetry and pedigrees that finally destroyed him.

Whether, or not, he was distracted by his love of music, or by his attempts to woo the society of which he was a part, his businesses did finally fail. Ironically, his patronage of music was to save him, at least in part, at the end.

In September 1787, Henry Burgum arranged a performance of "Judus Maccabaeus" for which Bartolozzi, made the tickets of admission. Bartolozzi was a famous Italian engraver, who settled in England under the patronage of King George III. The receipts helped Burgum greatly. In April 1788, The Messiah was performed in Bristol for Burgum's benefit.

In Felix Farley's Journal for 1789, an entry reads: "Friday, June 5th, died suddenly at his house, on the Parade, St James' churchyard, Mr Henry Burgum, formerly a pewterer in this city."

Henry died aged 40, and was buried here at Tickenham, to the west of Bristol. Apparently, he had a country place there, "Tickenham House". An inscription, in the south aisle of the church, near the font, has since been destroyed. It had simply read - "Henry Burgum of the city of Bristol, Pewterer."

I have tracked down the location of some of Henry Burgum's Red Morocco music volumes, as featured in his portrait hanging in the Georgian House, in Bristol
(see picture right). They are held as part of the Theodore M. Finney Music Manuscript Collection, located in Austin Texas. I am currently in contact with a Music Specialist at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center seeking copies of the material. Henry Burgum didn't just own this manuscript, he copied it, and even included a number of his own compositions!

I have also been able to purchase two pewter plates actually made by Catcott and Burgum in the eighteenth century!

More about BURGUM AND CATCOTT, Pewterers of Bristol (An article by Alyson and Mike Marsden, published with the kind permission of The Pewter Society and the authors).