The Mystery of Five Family Portraits: III – Lewis Penn Witherspoon Balch

Introduction The third of the five family portraits depicted Judge Lewis Penn Witherspoon Balch (1787-1868). His grandson would marry a granddaughter of Julia Anna Marion Prosser (Mrs. Richard Bland Lee II) (1805-1886). Subject Balch was born on July 31, 1787, in Georgetown, District of Columbia, son of Reverend Stephen Bloomer Balch (1747-1833), founder and leader of Georgetown Presbyterian Church. The elder Balch studied with John …

Recto and Verso: Lewis Penn Witherspoon Balch

The Legend When Lewis Penn Witherspoon Balch sat for his portrait in the studio of William Edward West (1788-1857) in Baltimore, Maryland around 1840, he was in his early 50s. According to a family biographer, six years earlier Balch had freed his 22 slaves and spent the equivalent of $40,000 to pay for their supplies and passage to Liberia. Like …