The Birth of General Picton

Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Picton was born on the 24th of August, 1758 to Thomas and Cecil Picton (Nee Powel) of Poyston, Pembrokeshire. He was later baptised at Rudbaxton on the 29th of August. 

His mother Cecil Picton (Nee Powel) was the daughter a heiress of Rev. Edward Powel of Llandow.  

At the age of 15/16 he joined the 12th Regiment of Foot at Gibraltar as an ensign.  His military career let him to fight under the Duke of Wellington at the Iberian Peninsular War and the Battle of Waterloo. During the Battle of Waterloo Thomas was fatally wounded on the 18th of June, 1815 and became one of the most senior officers to die at the battle.

One of his relations includes Richard Turbervill of Ewenny Priory. This connection links the family to the The Twelve Knights of Glamorgan and the de Tuberville families of Coity and Sker. 

Below is the story of  "The Birth of General Picton" - as told by Alun Morgan.

General Sir Thomas Picton, one of the Duke of Wellington’s divisional commanders, who was killed at the Battle of Waterloo, had several connections with Porthcawl. One of the town’s streets has been named after him, and a public house; one of his relatives, Mary Caroline, married James Brogden who built the docks and the early town. Porthcawlians would therefore be interested in the story of his birth, a true account but know almost legendary. This is how he entered the world.

Miss Cecil Powel, heiress of Llandow, was a beautiful and talented girl. As a result she had many admirers and suitors, both young and old; but, being also highly spirited, she steadfastly refused to get herself entangled at an early age. She wanted to enjoy herself first before succumbing to the fetters of marriage.

Many tried to be her one and only escort but by various ploys she always succeeded in thwarting serious designs on her. One suitor, however, was so persistent that she devised a scheme that was to be both hilarious and effective. She consented to marriage but only on one condition; that the ceremony should take place at St. Tresilian’s cave, St. Donat’s. This cave was situated in a lonely spot on the coast and had already been the scene of a romantic marriage many years previously; it was also the place. People said, where the body of a notorious Bristol Channel pirate had been buried.

She arranged for a bogus ceremony to be performed, bribing a local man to act as clergyman. All the guests were to be masked, including the ‘parson’. When it was all over she would announce that the ‘marriage’ must be annulled for it had been a sham from the start to finish. The earnest ‘groom’ would then find himself defeated and everyone would dissolve in laughter.

Everything was arranged and the wilful girl appeared at the cave in a beautiful wedding dress accompanied by bridesmaids who could hardly conceal their enjoyment of the anticipated denouncement. The ceremony was dutifully performed and then, when it was over the clergyman removed his mask to reveal himself as Rev. Edward Powel, Rector of Llandow and father of the bride. He and the suitor had heard of the plot, paid off the hired man and conspired together to make the real thing of it. The bride found herself properly and irretrievably married.

Recovering from her shock Cecil Powel relented and saw the humorous side of things. She and her husband remained happily married all their lives, giving birth to a so who was christened Thomas Picton, later to serve his country well and fall at Quatre Bras. 

Illustration by Margaret Wooding

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