Arab Today, arab today general picton portrait to be removed
Last Updated : GMT 09:41:15
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Waterloo hero condoned torture

General Picton portrait to be removed

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today General Picton portrait to be removed

Portrait of Waterloo hero
London - Arabstoday

Portrait of Waterloo hero As one of the Duke of Wellington’s most skilful generals, he fought on the frontline of some of the bloodiest Napoleonic wars and was the highest ranking officer to die at the Battle of Waterloo .
So it is perhaps unsurprising that, to celebrate Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Picton’s military heroism, a large portrait of the Welshman hangs inside the court house in Carmarthen, South Wales.
But today it emerged that a row has broken out about the painting, which lawyers claim is offensive and should not be displayed behind the judge’s chair in Carmarthen Crown Court.
They say Sir Thomas’s reputation as a cruel and brutal colonial governor – he was military governor of Trinidad at the turn of the 19th century, where he was accused of torturing a young slave girl - mean his image should not be associated with modern equality and justice.
However,  Carmarthenshire Museum, who own the 8ft x 4ft portrait, disagree and say it was specifically commissioned for the court house, where it has lived for the past 182 years, and should stay.
Criminal lawyer Kate Williams, who is among those calling for the painting to be taken down, said: \'I appreciate the painting for historical purposes and that he (Picton) was a figure of note.
\'But I find it very offensive that someone who was not only a known slaver, but also allegedly tortured a slave, should have his picture in a place where the values of justice are served.
\'It’s fair to say he has a murky past and it is inappropriate to have his picture in a modern court of law, where we are supposed to represent the principles of equality and justice for all.
\'I think people might misread the prominence of the picture as saying he has done something worthwhile to contribute towards justice, which really isn\'t the case.\'
Sir Thomas, who was born in Poyston, Pembrokeshire, in 1758, was appointed military governor of Trinidad following the British victory in 1797 where he oversaw the production of sugar by slaves on the island’s plantations.
But he operated a brutally authoritarian regime which lead to accusations of slave torture, false imprisonment and execution.
In 1806 he was called back to Britain and faced trial in London over claims he authorised the torture of a 13-year-old girl, Louisa Calderon, who was accused of robbery, by forcing her to stand on a sharpened wooden peg while suspended from the ceiling.
This form of torture was dubbed \'Pictoning\' at the trial and, although he was found guilty, Sir Thomas later overturned his conviction on appeal and went on to resume his military career.
His greatest successes came in Spain, where he was instrumental in the Battle of Vitoria, helping Wellington eventually claim victory in the Peninsular War.
Sir Thomas was killed after being was shot through the temple by a musket ball at the Battle of Waterloo, where, Welsh folklore contends, he fought in his top hat and tails because his uniform had not arrived at the frontline in time.
The portrait, by Sir Martin Archer Shee, was presented to the former Carmarthen Borough Council on September 2 1829. It was placed in the town¿s Guildhall (pictured) ¿ which is now used as a court ¿ and has been hanging in the same spot ever since.
One of the Duke of Wellington\'s generals, Sir Thomas was the most senior officer to be killed at the Battle Of Waterloo, as dramatised here in the 1970 film Waterloo
Sir Thomas was killed after being was shot through the temple by a musket ball at the Battle of Waterloo, where, Welsh folklore contends, he fought in his top hat and tails because his uniform had not arrived at the frontline in time.
His military reputation was so high after his death that several colonial frontier towns in Canada, Australia and New Zealand were named after him and he remains the only Welshman to be buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.
His statue is among 12  \'Heroes of Wales\', in Cardiff’s City Hall, a comprehensive school in Pembrokeshire is named after him and there is also another monument to him in Carmarthen.
The portrait, by Sir Martin Archer Shee, was presented to the former Carmarthen Borough Council on September 2 1829. It was placed in the town’s Guildhall – which is now used as a court – and has been hanging in the same spot ever since.
Ann Dorset, a spokeswoman for the museum, said that although Sir Thomas was a \'cruel and brutal\' governor of Trinidad, he was a \'a man of his time\' and should not be judged by today’s standards.
\'I think it would be a shame to move the painting from its original home,\' she said.
When Sir Thomas Picton died he was wearing a top hat and tails at the Battle of Waterloo
\'Picton was a very well respected general but on the other hand he was regarded as a rough and tough man and a great disciplinarian.
\'He was a great leader of men and these wars were tough.
\'It was hand to hand fighting and they were not like the battles of today. He would have been right in the middle of it.
\'I think we have to accept Picton warts and all and not judge him by today\'s standards.\'
Richard Goodridge, former mayor of Carmarthen, said removing the painting would be churlish.
\'After she was released from custody she walked more than a mile to the store where the crime took place, smoking a cigar.
\'In February 1810 the court ordered Picton\'s recognisance and no further action ever took place. He was, and remains to this day, innocent of all the charges.
\'Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Picton, despite what history may think of his unconventional ways, was an extremely popular officer and was killed in action at the battle of Waterloo in 1815 — the most senior officer to die for his country.\'

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