Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bellamy, Thomas (1745-1800)

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BELLAMY, THOMAS (1745–1800) miscellaneous writer, was born at Kingston-on-Thames in 1745. Having served his apprenticeship to a hosier in Newgate Street, he began business on his own account. Very early he showed a taste for verse-writing, some of the pieces in his 'Miscellanies' being dated 1763. After carrying on business with success for twenty years he became tired of serving at the counter. So, relinquishing the hosiery trade, he served as clerk in a bookseller's in Paternoster Row. 'But Bellamy,' says his biographer,' was not calculated for a subordinate position.' A disagreement arose between him and his employer, and Bellamy had to seek a livelihood elsewhere. In 1787 he started the 'General Magazine and Impartial Review,' which lived lor some months. Another venture was 'Bellamy's Picturesque Magazine and Literary Museum,' which contained engraved portraits of living persons, with some account of their lives; but the public gave little support to this undertaking. In 1794 he collected into two volumes the moral tales which he had written for the 'General Magazine,' adding some verses, unpublished tales, and a life of Parsons, the comedian. These 'Miscellanies in Prose and Verse' were dedicated to Charles Dibdin, with whom the author afterwards quarrelled. Later he projected the 'Monthly Mirror,' which was chiefly concerned with the stage. When this periodical had run its race, he established a circulating library. On the death of his mother he became possessed of some property, which enabled him to retire from business and devote himself to literary pursuits. But he did not long enjoy his leisure; seized with a sharp and sudden illness he died, after four days' suffering, on 29 Aug. 1800.

In addition to the works already mentioned he wrote: 1. 'The Benevolent Planters,' a dramatic piece performed at the Haymarket in 1789, and printed in the same year. 2. 'Sadaski, or the Wandering Penitent,' 2 vols., 12mo, 1798. 3. 'Lessons from Life, or Home Scenes.' 4. 'The Beggar Boy,' a novel in three volumes, published posthumously in 1801, to which is prefixed a biographical memoir of the author by Mrs. Villa-Real Gooch.

[Mrs. Villa-Real Gooch's Memoir, prefixed to the Beggar Boy; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; British Museum Catalogue.]

A. H. B.