Charles Caleb Colton
Charles Caleb Colton (baptized 11 December 1777 – died 28 April 1832) was an English cleric, writer and collector, well known for his eccentricities.
Colton was educated at Eton and King’s College, graduating with a B.A. in 1801 and an M.A. in 1804. In 1801, he was presented by the college with the perpetual curacy of Tiverton’s Prior’s Quarter in Devon, where he lived for many years. He was appointed to the vicarage of Kew and Petersham in 1812. His performance of church-related functions at both locations was erratic: at times conscientious and brilliant while at other times cursory and indulgent. He left formal church service, and England, in 1828. Contemporaries believed that he had fled from his creditors, who took out a legal “docket” against him, identifying him as a wine-merchant.
For two years Colton traveled throughout the United States. He later established a modest residence in Paris. There he invested in an art gallery and had a large private collection of valuable paintings. Other pastimes included wine collecting and partridge-shooting. He also frequented the gaming salons of the “Palais Royal” and was so successful that in a year or two he acquired the equivalent of 25,000 English pounds. He continued gambling, however, and lost his French fortune. At the time of his death, Colton was living on funds received from his immediate family. An illness required surgery, but Colton dreaded the operation. He eventually killed himself rather than undergo the procedure.