Capt. William H. Whitfield

William H. Whitfield was born in Fairhaven in 1804 to Sybil Whitfield. He was raised by his grandmother and was influenced by his uncle George Whitfield, also a sea captain. He was captain of the whaler John Howland on its voyage to the Pacific from 1839 to 1843 during which time Manjiro Nakahama was rescued.

Later in life, Capt. Whitfield served as a Selectman in 1871, 1872 and 1873 and was a State Representative in 1872 and 1873. He was married twice, first to Ruth Irish and second to Albertina Keith. He and Albertina had four children, William H., Marcellus P., Sybil M., and Albertina P.

The captain’s grave site in Riverside Cemetery has been visited by many Japanese dignitaries over the years, including the current Emperor of Japan. His grandson Thomas Whitfield (1882-1944) was the second-longest serving Selectman in Fairhaven’s history.

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