Cesar Picton

(1755—1836) coal merchant

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(1755–1836). African servant who worked in England and later became a successful businessman. Picton was brought to Kingston, Surrey, from Senegal at the age of 6 as a gift to Sir John Philipps of Norbiton from Captain Parr, a British army officer. He was most probably born a Muslim but was baptized into the Christian faith on 4 December 1761. It was then that he was christened Cesar. Details of his Senegalese name are not known. He developed a close bond with the Philipps family. They, being strongly in favour of education and Christian missionary work, encouraged the young Cesar. When Sir John died in 1764, Cesar gained his independence and rented a coach house and stables from the money that he had inherited from Sir John. It was during this time that he gave himself the surname of Picton. Subsequently, he set up as a coal merchant, and by 1795 he was a lucrative businessman and able to purchase various pieces of property. He eventually moved out of Kingston in order to rent his property there, and settled in Thames Ditton, where he lived for twenty years. He inherited money from the Philipps children following their deaths, and used it to invest further in property and other valuable assets. He died in 1836 at the age of 81. Picton is buried in All Saints' Church, Kingston. Every year the Kingston Racial Equality Council and Kingston University organize a Cesar Picton Lecture in commemoration of the contribution of blacks to Kingston's and British history.

From The Oxford Companion to Black British History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: British History.

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