Cesar Picton was once a well know name in the local area, but with time people have slowly forgotten what a brilliant story his is.

In 1761 Cesar was only six when he was taken as a slave from Senegal. The young boy was given to Sir John Phillips of Kingston by a friend. Sir John had him baptised on the 6th of December and gave him Christian name Cesar. His Senegalese name was never recorded.

Normally boy slaves were passed to the males in the family, but the Phillips family became so attached to him that he became Lady Phillips' protégé. Cesar was well nurtured whilst growing up. The Phillips were in support of education and Christian missionary work, setting Cesar up with a good understanding of this new country. In the 1700’s racism was common, a letter sent by Horace Walpole noted: "I was in Kingston with the sisters of Lord Milford; they have a favourite black, who has been with them for many years and is remarkably sensible".

In 1776 Lady Phillips passed away, however in her will she left £100 to Cesar (a very substantial amount in those days). Cesar, now on his own, spent his legacy on renting a coach house and stables in Kingston, known today as Picton House.

Giving himself the surname Picton, (after Picton Castle), he set up as a coal merchant. By 1795, at 40, he was a much-respected businessman, having made enough money to buy Picton House in Kingston and other property, including a wharf and a malt house.

In 1801 one of the Philips sisters died, leaving him another sum of £100. However, by this time he was already well off by his own efforts. Picton moved several times but finally settled in 1816 for a house in Thames Ditton. He paid a large amount of £4000, the house still remains today on Thames Ditton, The High Street.

He lived the rest of his life in comfort, finally dying at a ripe old age of 81. He was buried in All Saints' Church, Kingston. In his will, he asked to be "plain but decently buried within the Parish Church, Kingston" and that the mourning rings, costing no more than £5 each, be distributed to 16 named friends.

This shows how time can slowly decay an extraordinary story, which ought to be better known. And also shows how ancient history is all around us.