Captain Ewell Tritton

Henry Jacob Burch


Ewell Tritton was born in Folkestone on 25 January 1774 to Robert Tritton and Anne Varham. At the age of twelve he joined a ship bound for Lisbon just for the experience of going to sea. Life on board must suited him as the following year he joined the Royal Navy. He was later promoted to Lieutenant by Lord Nelson whilst on HMS Active in the Mediterranean and served many years under Lord Collingwood who took him with him when he shifted his flag. He commanded HMS Kingfisher for nine years from 1809 taking part in the Napoleonic Wars. The Gentleman’s Magazine relates how he destroyed a convoy off Corfu in 1813. He died unmarried in October 1819 at the age of 45 and is buried at Boughton Aluph in Kent. His three sisters having all pre-deceased him, he left his money in an annuity to his ‘good friend Mary Rainey’ of Grosvenor Square.

The portrait shows Tritton in naval uniform set against a cloudy sky. It is presented in a gold plated frame that is glazed on the reverse to show two locks of hair laid with a band of seed pearls on foiled opalescent glass. The rim of the frame is engraved with the sitter’s details – ‘Captain Ewell Tritton R.N. born Jan. 25 1774 died Oct. 1818 aged 45’.

Under magnification, there is some light dust under the glass and bits of gold wire on the reverse have come adrift. Otherwise both portrait and frame are in fine condition.

New research has revealed that Henry Jacob Burch was born in 1762 and so was seventeen years old when he entered the Royal Academy Schools. He married Elizabeth Beresford in December 1784 at the Paris Church of St Marylebone. The land tax records of 1789 list him as a seal engraver working with an apprentice in Soho so miniature painting was probably not his main source of income. He exhibited miniatures between 1787 and 1834.

Item Ref. 7246

Size: framed, 80 x 66mm + bail