This famous surname is English. It is locational from the places called "Picton," being a parish and hamlet near Chester in Cheshire, and a parish near Yarm in North Yorkshire. The placename is composed of the Old English pre 7th Century elements "pic", meaning point or peak a common placename element, or possibly "pica" a word meaning elf or goblin and sometimes used as a personal name, and "tun", an enclosure or settlement, which is also found in many placenames. In the Middle Ages, when migration for the purpose of job seeking was becoming more common, people often took their former village name as a means of identification, hence placenames became a main influence in surname formation. One of the original nameholders was Thomas Picton, the canon of St Davids, Pembroke, in 1399, whilst an early recording in the surviving registers of the diocese of Greater London is that of Robart Pyckton, who married Elizabeth Burton, at St. Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey, on August 25th 1587. Probably the most illustrious namebearer was Sir Thomas Picton (1758-1815), the famous cavalry commander. He had been severely injured at the battle of Quatre Bras only a few days earlier, but this minor inconvenience did not stop him leading the charge at the battle of Waterloo. Here his luck finally ran out and he was killed. Not surprisingly a monument was erected to him at St. Paul's Cathedral, in London.
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