London’s Dreadful Visitation: The Great Plague, 1665

The Great Plague was a devastating event in the City of London, wiping out almost 100,000 people. Whether young or old, man or woman, saint or sinner, it killed mercilessly and changed London forever. To commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Great Plague in London we are currently staging the exhibition London’s Dreadful Visitation: Exploring the Great Plague through Guildhall Library’s Collections. Come along to learn more about the pestilence, including the remedies people used; their thoughts on the cause; and what the authorities did in response to the outbreak.

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To put the exhibition together, I researched the topic using the mass of information available at Guildhall Library, from books and broadsides to manuscript records of the numbers of the dead. A lot of the texts available at Guildhall Library are unique, and we hold the fullest set of Bills of Mortality in the world, dating from 1532-1858. The Parish Clerks’ Bills are the closest things we have to accurate statistics about disease. Recording causes of death and numbers of burials parish by parish, week by week, they help us understand the spread of plague across the City. They also acted as an early warning system for outbreaks of plague in 1665. A lot of these items are currently available to view in the exhibition, and there are lots more on the open shelves that you can read at the library, without an appointment!

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While reading these fascinating texts, I came across many interesting stories and accounts of the plague written by eye-witnesses. As well as the diaries of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn, we also have texts by doctors and clergymen. One of the most distressing things I read was the minister Thomas Vincent’s account of “a woman…weeping by the door where I lived…with a little Coffin under her arm…; I did judge that it was the mother of the childe, and that all the family besides was dead, and she was forced to coffin up and bury with her own hands this her last dead childe.”

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To accompany the exhibition a launch event was held on Thursday 16 July, as well as a series of upcoming family workshops with Assistant Librarian Isabelle Chevallot. There will be an opportunity to explore a variety of the original sources as well as being treated to an atmospheric plague storytelling session. Please check www.ghlevents.eventbrite.co.uk for more information and to book. Also, don’t forget to look out for forthcoming plague merchandise, including posters and tea towels.

Want to find out more? Our exhibition is free and open until 11 September. After this date, the banners from the exhibition will be available to hire for display in museums and schools. If you are interested please get in touch at GHLevents@cityoflondon.gov.uk.

Amy Randall
Events and Exhibitions Officer

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A Very Modern Tradition – Livery Companies in the 21st Century

The City of London’s 110 Livery Companies are unique institutions that blend civic pride, charitable commitment, training and education, industry, profession and military connections, with fellowship and religious roots. Each Company brings these aspects to life in different ways and to varying degrees depending on its size, history, finances and the make up of its membership – some companies still have regulatory, inspection, enforcement, examination or qualification awarding roles.

Contrary to widely held perception the Livery Companies are in rude health, growing both in number and in membership such that there are now more Livery Companies and more members of those companies than at any time in the past. Considering the earliest of the companies predate the Norman Conquest – that’s no mean feat. Their role and impact in modern times is as diverse as it is vast, this presentation (view link below) explores just some of the ways in which Livery Companies are active in the 21st Century:

http://www.cityandlivery.co.uk/a-very-modern-tradition.pdf

Paul D Jagger, Court Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists

Author of “The City of London Freeman’s Guide”

Livery Companies Book

Convoy Web – an Invaluable Resource at Guildhall Library

Convoy Web is a searchable database of Second World War Convoys (and a rapidly developing resource for First World War Convoys) available in the reading room of Guildhall Library.

To demonstrate the power and versatility of this resource I thought I would show you an example from the Second World War.

Convoy Web is searchable by convoy name, vessel name, escort vessel name and port.

Convoy 1

If one wished to know which ships were in Convoy PQ16 for example, we could search on that number and instantly we see that Convoy PQ 16 departed Reykjavik on the 21st May 1942 and arrived at Murmansk on the 30th May 1942.

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There follows on from this a list of all of the Merchant Vessels, escorts etc. in the Convoy, together with the dates they were part of Convoy PQ16 as well as the date they arrived at their destination port.

Sadly many of the vessels did not reach their destination; such were the dangers of serving on the convoys! Brief details are given of losses with dates which will aid further research.

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You will note that all the vessels shown offer links and if for example we selected the “Empire Lawrence” we would be taken to the convoy entries for that vessel up until the time she was bombed and sunk by a German aircraft on 27th May 1942 off the North Cape on a voyage from Reykjavik to Murmansk.

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We can see that she served in other convoys and dates and ports of call are given if you click on the relevant link.
The Arctic Convoys were particularly dangerous – as evidenced by the PQ17 disaster in July 1942, in which 24 out of 35 merchant ships were lost, albeit after the convoy was dispersed. Its predecessor, PQ16, was considered a success with only 8 ships sunk in enemy air and submarine attacks.
Guildhall Library has been providing ports of call for our users for many years, especially from our Voyage Record Card (VRC) collection as they can contribute toward the proof required for medal claims like the Arctic Star award for service in these Arctic Convoys.

Volunteers have been entering detail from the VRCs and many other sources including the Lloyd’s Confidential Sheets to create this useful database. Their invaluable work has only been accessible to staff members in the past but has now been converted into this web site making it far easier to access the treasure of information it stores.

We are very grateful for the generosity of the web master and researchers past and present who have willingly donated time and expertise in making this invaluable and accessible resource. Access to this resource is available in Guildhall Library only. The site is regularly updated and additions made so do revisit the site when you come to the library.

Jeanie Smith, Assistant Librarian and Keeper of the Lloyd’s Marine Collection

 

100th Anniversary of the Sinking of the Lusitania

Lusitania heading

On the 100th anniversary of the loss of the Lusitania on May 7th this year, I thought our readers would be interested to hear about the resources they can consult at Guildhall Library if they wish to know more about the sad and contentious loss of this passenger ship.

This is the story as it appeared in ‘Lloyd’s List’ (part of the Lloyd’s Marine Collection at the Library) with some complementary material from the rest of the Lloyd’s Collection, the ‘Times’ and the ‘Illustrated London News’.

The story begins before the Lusitania sailed from New York for Liverpool…

‘Times’ Monday 3rd May 1915

A report from New York headed “Alarmist Telegrams” recorded that most of the ‘leading passengers’ aboard the Lusitania had received a telegram warning them to cancel their trip and not to sail because the Lusitania would be torpedoed. The report also states that these passengers were stopped as they tried to board the ship by mysterious characters with German accents warning them of the danger ahead.

‘Lloyd’s List’ Friday May 7th 1915

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A poignant advertisement appeared for the Lusitania’s next voyage leaving Liverpool for New York on Saturday 15th May, a voyage she was never to make.

‘Lloyd’s List’ Saturday May 8th 1915

The Lusitania is listed in the section headed ‘War’ as follows

LUSITANIA
._ Land’s End Wireless Station, May 7 2.20pm._Distress call made by steamer Lusitania at 2.13pm as follows: Come at once, big list, position 10 miles south Kinsale.
______Valentia Wireless Station, May 7 2.30pm._Steamer Lusitania in distress 10 miles south of Kinsale at 2.15p.m.
______Brow Head Wireless Station, May 7 3.20p.m._Wireless reports steamer Lusitania 10 miles south old head of Kinsale sending out distress signals 2.15 p.m. , asking for assistance, come at once. Weather fine, sea calm.
______Queenstown, May 7, 2.58 p.m._Reported that steamer Lusitania sank at 2.33 p.m. south-west of Kinsale

The wireless operators on board the Lusitania were Robert Leith and his Junior David McCormick but they are not named in the ‘Lloyd’s List’ report.

The same issue had a brief report on the Cunard Liner headed “’Lusitania’ Sunk by Submarine.” The report stated that she had been torpedoed and the fate of her 1250 passengers and 600 crew (numbers stated not exact) were at present unknown and that rescue attempts were being made. It was thought that Lusitania could outrun any danger from the U-boats and the report highlighted that Lusitania had broken the speed record for a steamer across the Atlantic in 1914; but on her last voyage one of her engine rooms had been shut down so her speed was reduced.

‘Times’ Saturday May 8th 1915

This editorial reflects shock at the manner of the loss of the Lusitania whilst the details of the incident were still vague and the comments reflect the rhetoric of the time. The Kaiser, the German Government and the German people are accused of “wholesale murder and nothing else” and the incident is compared with the slaughter of French and Belgian citizens at Louvain and Dinant and speaks of retribution to come. Arguments over justification for the attack, whether armaments were being carried, if she was struck by one torpedo or two, began then and still continue.

‘Lloyd’s List’ Monday May 10th 1915
The War: Destruction of the ‘Lusitania’: Vessel Struck by Two Torpedoes: Heavy Death Roll

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The report indicated that after being struck by two torpedoes Lusitania sank in 15 to 25 minutes. The estimated loss of life was 2160 although only 45 were known to have died at that time. It speaks of the attempts by the local fishing community to save survivors and retrieve bodies. The Secretary of the Admiralty denied that the Lusitania was armed in the face of statements being made from the German side.

‘Lloyd’s List’ Tuesday May 11th 1915

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This issue announced that the Board of Trade, with the concurrence of the Admiralty, had ordered an inquiry into the circumstances attending the loss of the Lusitania.

In the same edition a “German Message to America” appeared, arguing that the German people were being starved, the Lusitania had been armed and that British vessels had been ramming German submarines. It stated:

“The German government in spite of its heartfelt sympathy for the loss of American lives cannot but regret that Americans felt more inclined to trust English promises rather than pay attention to the warnings from the German side.”

‘Illustrated London News’ Saturday 15th May 1915

This publication covered the loss of the vessel in detail with dramatic illustrations of passengers clinging to the wreckage and this disturbing image of the sinking vessel.

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The Lloyd’s Marine Collection at Guildhall Library also includes the original ‘Lloyd’s War Loss Book’ for the First World War and part of the entry for the Lusitania can be seen below:

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We also hold the original typed sheets from the ‘Lloyd’s Record of War Losses’ for the First World War and the sheet for the Lusitania is shown below:

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The Lloyd’s Collection includes 15 research folders on vessels of note which includes a small collection of cuttings and articles on the Lusitania.

Content of the research folder includes discussion of the aftermath, theories about the second explosion and documents covering the various salvage operations eg:- ‘How I found the Lusitania: My exciting Search for the sunken liner three hundred feet below a stormy sea’ by Captain Henry Russell of the ‘Orphir’(extract from ‘Glasgow Evening News’ Nov 16th 1935) and, Hubert Collier’s ‘What Really Sank the Lusitania?’ From Lloyd’s Log, May 1975.

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The research folder offers some documents relating to salvage work in the 1960s.  Three copy letters from Sub-Agent Seamas O’Neill to Lloyd’s Intelligence dated June 23rd 1967, July 12th 1967 and July 18th 1967 refer to John Light (leader of the diving team), the salvage operation, some filming by Granada TV and the movements of salvage vessel ‘Doonie Braes’.

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A copy of the Lusitania Inquiry, some published books on the loss and more recent articles eg:- Simon Wills in the May 2015 ‘Family Tree’ magazine, are also held at the Library, see the library catalogue http://capitadiscovery.co.uk/cityoflondon/

Lists of passengers and crew can be found online at http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/ and http://www.geni.com/projects/RMS-Lusitania/14738

You are welcome to visit Guildhall Library to research the Lusitania and other vessels and stories in the collection. Most items can be ordered from our stores and brought to your table in about fifteen minutes. You can discover more about our resources on the maritime page on our website https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/guildhall-library/collections/Pages/Maritime-history.aspx

Written by: Jeanie Smith – Assistant Librarian and Keeper of the Lloyd’s Marine Collection
Photographs by: Elisabeth Dew – Library Assistant

DIY in the Victorian Garden with Shirley Hibberd

James Shirley Hibberd was born in Stepney in 1825 and was the son of a sea captain. He began his career as a bookseller but was writing articles on horticulture long before it became his profession and became expert in the cultivation of fruit, flowers and vegetables.

Following his marriage in 1850, Hibberd moved to Pentonville where he gradually changed from making his living by bookselling to horticultural journalism. In 1858 he became the first editor of Floral World, managing that gardening paper until 1875, after which he began to work on popular gardening manuals and on creating a series of specialist gardens. Running out of space in his North London gardens, he moved to Muswell Hill where he created still more specialist gardens.

His experiments and investigations led to his being consulted by individuals and interest groups for advice; he became a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and a judge at the Guildhall Flower Show.

Hibberd the horticultural expert had a reputation for picking fights with his peers but he was also a good communicator, particularly for the amateur gardener. His practical experience and advice and his enthusiasm for many types of gardening are demonstrated in these publications held at Guildhall Library:

The Floral World and Garden Guide edited by James Shirley Hibberd (1871).

Floral1An item from the Library of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners at Guildhall Library, shelf mark GC 2.3.

This guide was a monthly publication aimed at amateur gardeners of moderate means. Hibberd reported on the progress of his garden projects in each issue, thus helping gardeners find practical solutions to their own gardening problems.

Anne Wilkinson in her article ‘The Preternatural Gardener: The Life of James Shirley Hibberd (1825-90)’ points out that at the time The Floral World began, amateur gardeners were still considered a minority interest. Contemporary periodicals like The Gardeners’ Chronicle and The Cottage Gardener were aimed at those who employed professional gardeners, or at the head gardeners and nurserymen who worked for them. Hibberd saw the advantage of writing for people who took a ‘DIY’ approach to gardening. He also wanted to spread ideas and to share expertise and experience between professional and amateur gardeners.

Many of the articles in Floral World were by florists and nurserymen, people who could offer sound advice, and much of the writing was done by Hibberd himself. In his ‘Garden Guide for June’ Hibberd’s horticultural notes reviewed several RHS and other exhibitions which had taken place during May. He discussed the previous month’s weather (cold north-easterly winds) and its effect on the fruit crops. There were also sections for notes on new books and new plants as well as answers to readers’ questions just as in today’s gardening magazines.

Floral 2In his article Victorian Gardening Magazines, Desmond Ray states that the coloured plates for Floral World were provided by Benjamin Fawcett of Yorkshire and he suggests that they were subsequently used in Hibberd’s books, e.g. New and Rare Beautiful-leaved Plants (1870) and The Ivy (1872).

Benjamin Fawcett (1808 -1893) was one of the most able and gifted English nineteenth century woodblock colour printers. He had a long association with natural history writer and ornithologist Francis Orpen Morris, the printing of Morris’ works being done by Fawcett and the engraving by Alexander Francis Lydon (1836-1917). Most of the joint works of Fawcett and Lydon were published by Groombridge of London, also the publisher of the three works highlighted here which were written or edited by Hibberd.

The Ivy, a Monograph; Comprising the History, Uses, Characteristics, and Affinities of the Plant, and a Descriptive List of all the Garden Ivies in Cultivation (1872).

An item from the Library of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners at Guildhall Library, shelf mark GC 2.3.

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This volume has a superb richly decorated Victorian binding with gold blocking, two colour plates and numerous wood-engravings throughout the text. It describes the history of ivy and the folklore associated with it, giving scientific descriptions of all known varieties as well as offering several ‘ivy’related quotations from Virgil, Shakespeare, Keats and Tennyson.

Hibberd personally collected over 200 varieties of ivy and in spite of the breadth of his horticultural interests they were a particular passion for him.

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The Fern Garden or Fern Culture Made Easy (1869).  

Floral5An item from the Library of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners at Guildhall Library, shelf mark: GC 1.1

Like many Victorians, Hibberd was a pteridomaniac (fern enthusiast). In the preface to his fern book we see a waspish side of his character whilst warming to his care for enlightening the beginner…

“Beginners in Fern culture are very much perplexed by the abundance of books on the subject, and their general unfitness to afford the aid a beginner requires. Almost everybody has written a book on ferns, it having become the fashion to consider a knowledge of the subject rather a disqualification than otherwise… we have plenty of good books on the subject, but for the most part they are technical and elaborate, and shoot over the heads of beginners.” (From Hibberd’s Preface)

Floral6The volume covers the identification and care of ferns, fern collecting and how to build a fernery etc.

I am endeared to Hibberd by a lovely story about his next door neighbour building a large structure which cast part of his garden into shade during the afternoons. Instead of having an un-neighbourly argument he converted his greenhouse into a fern house to work with the decrease in light levels!

Hibberd died on the 16th November 1890 and was buried Abney Park Cemetery, fittingly now a site of importance for nature conservation.

Written by: Jeanie Smith – Assistant Librarian and Keeper of the Lloyd’s Marine Collection
Photographs by: Elisabeth Dew – Library Assistant

References (All available at Guildhall Library)

Browne, Janet. ‘Hibberd, (James) Shirley (1825-1890)’ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, OUP, 2004; online edition, May 2009. wwwoxforddnb.com/view/article/13193 accessed 9th April 2015.

Hibberd, Shirley. The Fern Garden or Fern Culture Made Easy. London: Groombridge and Sons, 1869.

Hibberd, Shirley (ed). The Floral World and Garden Guide. London: Groombridge and Sons, 1871.

Hibberd, Shirley. The Ivy, a Monograph; comprising the History, Uses, Characteristics, and Affinities of the Plant, and a Descriptive List of all the Garden Ivies in Cultivation. London: Groombridge and Sons, 1872.

Massingham, Betty. A Century of Gardeners. London: Faber & Faber, 1982.

Ray, Desmond. ‘Victorian Gardening Magazines’. Garden History 5.3 (Winter, 1977): 47-66. www.jstor.org/stable/1586573 accessed: 04/01/2014

Wilkinson, Anne. ‘The Preternatural Gardener: The Life of James Shirley Hibberd (1825-90)’ Garden History 26.2 (Winter, 1998): 153-175.

Gardeners’ World – the 17th Century Way

Gard1This is ‘Kalendarium Hortense: or, The Gard’ner’s Almanac: Directing What he is to Do Monthly Throughout the Year and What Fruits and Flowers are in Prime’ of 1691 by John Evelyn (1620-1706) of ‘Diary’ fame.  This volume forms part of the Library of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners.

As we prepare to greet the Spring and perhaps tune in to ‘Gardeners’ World’ when it returns to our screens this week, it is good to be reminded that month by month advice on what to do in the garden has been around for a very long time.

The ‘Kalendarium Hortense’ offers practical advice for the 17th century gardener and in doing so offers us insights into horticulture in that period. It is one of the earliest gardening calendars, and gives advice on work in the kitchen and flower garden as well as listing each month’s ‘prime’ flowers and vegetables.

For example in March, Evelyn offers plenty of advice about what to grow and to do in the garden. He tells us that March is “the chiefest and best time for raising on the Hot-bed Melons, Cucumbers, Gourds, &c. which about the sixth, eighth, or tenth day will be ready for the Seeds; and eight days after prick them forth at distances, according to the Method &c.”

‘Flowers in Prime, and yet lasting’ in March are noted by Evelyn and include anemones, spring cyclamen, winter aconite, white and black hellebore, violets, hyacinth zeboin and the Persian iris.

Gard2He also lists ‘Fruits in prime or yet lasting’ an important list at a time of year where food is less abundant and for March, the mouth-watering list includes apples ‘Golden Ducket’ (Doucet), ‘pepins’, ‘Lones Pearmain’, ‘Winter Pearmain’ and ‘John-apple’.

As you may imagine, advice on the growing of fruit features throughout the year and the volume concludes with “a catalogue of such excellent fruit trees as may direct gentlemen to the choice of that which is good, and store sufficient for a moderate plantation: species and curiosities being otherwise boundless, and without end.”  Anyone who has visited the National Fruit Collection at Faversham in autumn will know that is true!

Evelyn offers guidance on work “To be done in the orchard and olitory garden.” The ‘Oxford English Dictionary’ defines ‘Olitory’ as “of or relating to culinary herbs or kitchen vegetables, or a kitchen garden” and the earliest quoted use of the word is listed as being by J. Evelyn, in 1664, in ‘Kalendarium Hortense’. This gardeners’ almanac was originally an appendix to Evelyn’s ‘Sylva’ which was published in 1664. In ‘Sylva’ he encouraged landowners and growers to plant trees to replace those lost during the English Civil Wars.

Evelyn began to create his garden at Sayes Court, Deptford in 1652 having inherited the property from his father. This was the beginning of a lifelong interest in botany which led to his publishing several books on the subject. It is important to note that 17th century published advice for gardeners was usually meant for the professional horticulturalist, paid to develop and care for the gardens of gentlemen or the aristocracy not for the amateur gardener.

The Company’s collection of over 500 volumes remains at Guildhall Library as does the Company’s archive. This is by no means a closed collection and new acquisitions are added by the Company each year. You are welcome to visit the library to enjoy this collection and find gardening tips; you will just need to bring along proof of your name and address.

So as we look forward to hearing Monty’s reassuring tones and helpful advice once again, we can also recall Evelyn’s words in his dedication (to Abraham Cowley esq.) in ‘Kalendarium Hortense’

“You gather the first Roses of the Spring, and Apples of Autumn And …you vie Happiness in a thousand easie and sweet Diversions.”

Jeanie Smith
Assistant Librarian
Guildhall Library

Cesar Picton, by Howard Benge

I recently started at Guildhall Library and part of the induction is getting to know the extensive collection. A lifetime’s work, perhaps, but you have to start somewhere.

CPThrowing in certain keywords on the online catalogue, I stumbled across this, the Kingston-upon-Thames Archaeological Society report on Picton House.

I wrote an article a few years ago about Cesar Picton, who the house is named after. I have pasted it below.

 

Cesar Picton

Every town has its stories and tales of people, myths and legends. When I arrived in Kingston upon Thames 8 years ago, I was told many of these stories. Some were very bold, some horrific and some just ridiculous. For me, the story of one person stood out from the rest. When he was six years old, Cesar Picton was brought to Kingston from Senegal, became a servant in the household of an aristocratic family and ended up a wealthy gentleman.

What we know about Cesar is found through documents in the local records and archives. In 1761 he was brought from Africa by Captain Parr an officer of the British army who had been working in Senegal. In a meeting with Sir John Philipps, Captain Parr gave Cesar to the Philipps family as a gift. It was mentioned in Sir John’s journal that he was given Cesar along with “a parakeet and a foreign duck.” Early on Cesar had been taken from his home, his family, if he had one, and was treated as a commodity.

He lived with the Philipps family in Kingston at Norbiton Place, a large mansion-house on the outskirts of the town. From the records kept in the parish church, we know that he was baptised on 6th December 1761. We don’t know if he was brought up a Christian in Senegal. It was most likely that he was brought up a Muslim, as most of the population of Senegal was at that time.

Nothing is known about him from those early years in Senegal. Who was he, did he have a family, and was he rich or poor? Senegal was a major slave trade departure point in the 18th century. Maybe Captain Parr just bought him in a slave market. We do not even know his birth name. He was named after Picton Castle, the Philips family home in Wales. I wonder what upheaval he suffered being taken from Senegal to Britain by boat and then put in an incredibly wealthy household. I doubt he even spoke English at that time.

Cesar was brought up as a servant. It was not unusual to have black servants in wealthy households, but from letters it looks like the Philipps family were abolitionists. They were against the slave trade and supported overseas missions. Cesar was educated by the family, became very religious and hard-working. He was close to Lady Philipps and mixed with the family on equal terms, often entertaining visitors with them. When Lady Philips died in 1788 Cesar was left £100 in her will. This was a considerable amount and it gave him independence.

In his early 30s Cesar’s life completely changed. He set himself up in business, becoming a coal merchant in Kingston. Much of his money had to be spent in the outlay of the business, such as rent on the premises he worked from and £10 to the Kingston Corporation so he could trade. This was a hefty sum.

At first he rented a house on the high street, but was so successful in business he was able to buy it. This was a fashionable residence with moulded ceilings and an ornate staircase. It was named Picton House after his death and is still on the High Street with a plaque on the front to commemorate his life.

As his business grew, he bought more property and was left additional wealth when other members of the Philipps family died. Eventually, he lived the life of a gentleman, renting a cottage on a country estate in Tolworth. After that he bought a large property in Thames Ditton for £4000. Cesar Picton was doing very well in the world of business and society.

Towards the end of his life, he wrote and re-wrote his will. That still survives today and tells us a little more about his life. He left two watches, gold chains, rings, brooches and a tortoiseshell tea-chest. He died in 1836 at the age of 81. He lived a long life, indicating good health, but was obviously a large man. At his funeral a four-wheeled trolley was needed to carry him into the church with planks and rollers to lower him into the vault.

Cesar’s wish was to be buried in the parish church in Kingston, but there was no pomp or ceremony about his funeral. By his request he was buried in a plain and simple way.

We can see the footprints of Cesar. Picton House is on the High Street. His house in Thames Ditton still survives and is still one of the largest properties there. We have the records and documents of his life, the business transactions, tax payments, and the parish records. The spot where he was buried in the church is marked with a plaque that simply says “CP 1836.”

CP 1836

Many locals know about Cesar Picton from talks, books and leaflets. Ann-Marie Olufuwa runs the local group MeWe who celebrate African and Afro-Caribbean culture though drama and music. I asked about her thoughts on Cesar Picton. She said, “His is a very positive story for a black man in Britain during the years of the slave trade. In many ways he was one of my fore bearers. I am black with African roots and trying to achieve something in Kingston. I’m looking forward to re-telling his story in the future.”

What I want to know is more about the man. What was he like, what did he take pleasure in? Being black, did he suffer any minority issues in Kingston, or were people welcoming towards him? I often wonder if, in his adult life, he had any memories of his first 5 years in Senegal. Did he ever think about his natural family, what his life was like there, or would have been like if he was not brought to Britain? If he did, did he ever tell anyone? There are some things the records can never show us.

Howard Benge, Events and Development Manager @Guildhall Library