Beriah Fitch was the father of Henry Delano Fitch, the subject of an article by Ronald L. Miller published in this issue of the Journal of San Diego History.
Beriah Fitch, born in 1771, the son of Jonathan Gorham Fitch and Elizabeth Coffin, was master of several different vessels during his career, shipping mostly out of New Bedford, Mass. He married Sarah Delano in 1793 and they had four children, the oldest of which was Henry.
Henry Fitch carried the portrait of his father on some and perhaps all of the ships of which he was master. It is known that it was on board the Maria Ester, a brigantine of which Henry Fitch was captain for a number of years during the 1820s. It always hung in his own cabin, and later it probably hung in his home in San Diego. After Henry Fitch’s death, when his wife Josefa and children moved to Rancho Sotoyome in northern California, the painting probably went with them.
The portrait was donated to the San Diego History Center in 1971 by Woodley Brotherton Fitch, Henry Fitch’s grandson, who now lives in Sacramento, Ca.