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George Alexander Gratton

(1808-1813), Spotted boy

Sitter in 1 portrait
Born on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, the son of African slaves. Like other slaves, he was likely to have been named after the sugar plantation's owner or overseer, a common practice at the time that identified slaves as the property of their owners. He suffered with a condition characterised by pigment loss in the skin, resulting in white patches, now known as Vitiligo. His owner, perhaps aware that culturally held superstitions could put the child at risk, saw an opportunity to profit from his condition. He was sold for 1000 guineas, shipped to Britain and consigned to the care of John Richardson who exhibited him in a circus for the paying public, billed as the 'Spotted Negro Boy'. Contradictory to this callous exploitation, childless Richardson had the boy baptised and treated him like a son. When Gratton died at a young age, Richardson held onto his body whilst a customised brick vault was constructed to bury him at All Saints Cemetery, Marlow. He requested on his deathbed in 1837 that he be buried in the same vault as Gratton.

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George Alexander Gratton, by P.R. Cooper, sold by and after  Daniel Orme - NPG D8254

George Alexander Gratton

by P.R. Cooper, sold by and after Daniel Orme
coloured etching and aquatint, published 11 November 1809
NPG D8254

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