Christopher Raymond Perry

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Christopher Raymond Perry
Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas for Washington County
In office
1780–1791
Personal details
Born(1761-12-04)December 4, 1761
South Kingstown, Rhode Island, U.S.
DiedJune 1, 1818(1818-06-01) (aged 56)
Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.
Spouse(s)
Sarah Wallace Alexander
(m. 1784)
RelationsWilliam Butler (son-in-law)
George Washington Rodgers (grandson)
Children8, including Matthew, Oliver
ParentsJames Freeman Perry
Mercy Hazard
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Branch/service United States Navy
Years of service1775–1783
1798–1801
RankCaptain
CommandsUSS General Greene
Battles/wars

Christopher Raymond Perry (December 4, 1761 – June 1, 1818) was an officer in the United States Navy who was appointed Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas for Washington County, Rhode Island, in 1780 and served until 1791. He was the father of Oliver Hazard Perry and Matthew Calbraith Perry.

Early life[edit]

Perry was born on December 4, 1761, in Newport, Rhode Island, the son of the Hon. James Freeman Perry (1732–1813) and his wife, Mercy Hazard (1739–1810).[1] Christopher's father, Freeman, was a physician and surgeon.

Perry's paternal great-grandfather, Edward Perry, came from Devon, England, and settled in Sandwich, Massachusetts, around 1650 with his wife Mary Freeman. On his mother's side Perry was a seventh-generation descendant of Captain Richard Raymond (1602–1692), and his wife, Julia,[2] who was likely born in Essex, England, in 1602 and arrived in Salem, Massachusetts, about 1629, possibly with a contingent led by the Rev. Francis Higginson.[3] He was about 27 years old and later was a founder of Norwich, Connecticut, and an "honored fore-father of Saybrook".[4]

Perry's mother was also a descendant of Governor Thomas Prence (1599–1673), a co-founder of Eastham, Massachusetts, who was a political leader in both the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay colonies, and governor of Plymouth; and a descendant of Mayflower passengers, both of whom were signers of the Mayflower Compact, Elder William Brewster (c. 1567–1644), the Pilgrim colonist leader and spiritual elder of the Plymouth Colony, and George Soule (1593–1679), through his grandmother Susannah Barber Perry (1697–1755).

American Revolution[edit]

Christopher Perry enlisted, at the age of 14, in a local militia company named the Kingston Reds early in the American Revolution. He then served on a privateer commanded by a Captain Reed. After one cruise with Reed, Perry signed on to the privateer Mifflin commanded by George Wait Babcock. The Mifflin was captured by the British and Perry was confined to the infamous prison ship Jersey in New York harbor for three months before he managed to escape.[5]

In 1779, Perry joined the Continental Navy as a seaman aboard the frigate USS Trumbull commanded by Captain James Nicholson. On June 1, 1780, the Trumbull engaged the British letter of marque Watt in a hard-fought, but indecisive, action in which the Trumbull suffered 8 killed and 31 wounded compared to the Watt's 13 killed and 79 wounded.[6]

Perry then enlisted on another privateer which was captured off the coast of Great Britain. He then was taken as a prisoner to Newry Barracks in Ireland where he met his future wife, Sarah Wallace Alexander (1768–1830). Perry managed another escape by masquerading as a British seaman and taking passage to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. From St. Thomas he took passage to Charleston, South Carolina shortly before the war's conclusion in 1783.[7]

Post war[edit]

After the war, Perry served as a mate on a merchantman which sailed to Ireland where Perry was able to bring his beloved Sarah to the United States. They were married in Philadelphia on August 2, 1784. The young couple then moved to South Kingstown, Rhode Island where they lived with Perry's parents on their 200-acre estate. Their first child, Oliver Hazard Perry, was born in August 1785.[8]

Perry then pursued his career as a merchant captain, making voyages all over the world and amassing a small fortune in the process. He then decided to move his family to Newport, which was then an important shipping center and one of the largest cities in the newly independent United States. By 1797, Perry had achieved enough financial security that he was able to retired to the small coastal town of Westerly in the southwest corner of Rhode Island.[9]

Quasi War[edit]

On January 7, 1798, during the Quasi War with France, Perry was commissioned a captain in the U.S. Navy. Perry commanded the frigate General Greene, on which his son, then 13-year-old Oliver Hazard Perry, served as a midshipman. The General Greene was launched on January 21, 1799, departed on her first cruise on June 2, 1799, escorting five merchantmen to Havana, Cuba. In Havana a yellow fever epidemic struck the ship which forced her to return to Newport on July 27. The General Greene departed on her next cruise to Santo Domingo on September 23. On December 1 she, along with the frigate USS Boston captured the schooner Flying Fish and recaptured the American schooner Weymouth. Among other duties the General Green intercepted supplies to rebels fighting to overthrow General Toussaint Louverture who had led a successful slave revolt against the French in Haiti in 1791.[10]

On April 27, the General Greene brought two emissaries from Louverture to New Orleans where they went on to meet with President John Adams. She left New Orleans on May 10, escorting twelve merchantmen to Havana. As she neared Havana, a British 74 gun ship of the line intercepted the convoy and sent a boat towards one of the merchant ships so a boarding party could inspect the merchantman. Perry fired a shot across the bow of to boat and the captain of the British warship brought his ship alongside the much smaller General Greene. When the British captain demanded to know why Perry had fired on the boat, and remarked that it was very strange that a British ship of the line could not board an American merchant ship, Perry replied, "If she were a first rate ship (i.e. a ship mounting 100 guns), she should not do so to the dishonor of my flag!" Apparently, the incident was resolved without further conflict.[11]

The General Greene returned to Newport on July 21, 1800, where most of her crew was discharged. Perry was given orders to maintain the General Greene in a high state of readiness, should her services be needed. To his disappointment, Perry and the General Greene were not given any other assignments during the Quasi War.[12]

Perry, along with most of the other officers in the Navy, was discharged by the Peace Establishment Act of April 3, 1801, which greatly reduced both the Army and the Navy. In the Navy, only nine of 42 captains were allowed to remain in service.[13]

Personal life[edit]

On August 2, 1784, Perry married Sarah Wallace Alexander (1768–1830) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was born about 1768 in County Down, Ireland and died December 4, 1830, in New London, Connecticut. She was a descendant of an uncle of William Wallace,[14]:54 the Scottish knight and landowner who is known for leading a resistance during the Wars of Scottish Independence and is today remembered as a patriot and national hero.[15][16]

Christopher and Sarah had five sons, all of whom were officers in the U.S. Navy who died in service, and three daughters::66

  • Captain Oliver Hazard Perry (1785–1819), who married Elizabeth Champlin Mason in 1811.[17]
  • Lieutenant Raymond Henry Jones Perry (1789–1826), who served in the U.S. Navy from 1807 until his death.
  • Sarah Wallace Perry (1791–1855), who never married.[14]
  • Captain Matthew Calbraith Perry (1794–1858), who married Jane Slidell Perry (1816–1864)[18]
  • Anna Maria Perry (1797–1858), who married Commodore George Washington Rodgers (1787-1832).[14]:66
  • Jane Tweedy Perry (1799–1875), who married William Butler Jr. (1790–1850), a surgeon and United States Congressman, in 1819.[19]
  • Lieutenant James Alexander Perry (1801–1822), who served in the U.S. Navy from 1811 until his death. Served with his brother Oliver at the Battle of Lake Erie at the age of 12.
  • Purser Nathaniel Hazard Perry (1803–1832), who served as a purser (i.e., a supply and pay officer) in the U.S. Navy from 1820 until his death.

In 1800, Perry became the owner of a large house at 31 Walnut Street in Newport which is today known as the Knowles-Perry House. It is probable that this was Perry's primary residence for the remainder of his life.

Captain Perry died in Newport in 1818 and is buried in the Belmont-Perry plot in the Island Cemetery in Newport, Rhode Island. Aside from his wife, all those buried in the plot are either his descendants or their spouses.

Descendants[edit]

Captain Christopher Raymond Perry's descendants number in the thousands today. Some of his notable descendants include:[20]

His eldest son, Oliver Hazard Perry (1785–1819), hero of the Battle of Lake Erie. Matthew Calbraith Perry, commander of the Perry Expedition to Japan. Brevet Brigadier General Alexander James Perry (1828–1913) was a career Army officer who graduated from West Point and served during the American Civil War. The Right Reverend James De Wolf Perry (1871–1947) served as Episcopal Bishop of Rhode Island and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Captain Perry's grandson, Rear Admiral Christopher Raymond Perry Rodgers (1819–1892) was an officer in the United States Navy who served in the Mexican–American War and the American Civil War, was Superintendent of the Naval Academy, and Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Squadron. Rear Admiral Raymond Perry Rodgers (1849–1925), son of C.R.P. Rodgers, was an officer in the United States Navy and the second head of the Office of Naval Intelligence. Raymond Perry Rodgers's younger brother, Rear Admiral Thomas S. Rodgers (1858–1931), was an officer in the United States Navy who served in the Spanish–American War and World War I. Two other descendants of Captain Perry through his daughter Anna Maria Perry Rodgers were Calbraith Perry Rodgers (1879–1912), a pioneer American aviator who was the first civilian to purchase a Wright Flyer and the first to make a transcontinental flight, and Commander John Rodgers (1881–1926), an officer in the United States Navy and an early aviator.

Through his son Matthew's daughter, Caroline Slidell (née Perry) Belmont, he was the great-grandfather of statesman Perry Belmont (1851–1947), who served as a United States Representative from New York and the United States Minister to Spain, and also served as an officer in the U.S. Army during both the Spanish–American War and World War I. August Belmont Jr. (1853–1924), was an American financier, the builder of New York's Belmont Park racetrack, and a major owner/breeder of Thoroughbred racehorses. Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont (1858–1908) was a wealthy American socialite and United States Representative from New York; he was the second husband of Alva Vanderbilt Belmont.

Another of Captain Perry's great-grandsons, William Tiffany (1868–1898), a 2nd lieutenant in the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry (a.k.a. Roosevelt's Rough Riders), died of yellow fever shortly after returning to the United States following his service in Cuba during the Spanish–American War. Matthew Calbraith Butler (1836–1909), son of Captain Perry's daughter Jane Tweedy Perry Butler, was an American military commander and politician from South Carolina who served as a major general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, a post-bellum three-term United States Senator, and a major general in the United States Army during the Spanish–American War.[21] Commander George Washington Rodgers (1822–1863), a grandson of Captain Perry and brother of Rear Admiral C.R.P. Rodgers, "was distinguished for his bravery in the silencing of Fort Sumter and the batteries on Morris Island."

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ Phillipson, Mark. "PhpGedView User Login - PhpGedView". www.clayfox.com. Retrieved 2016-05-14.
  2. ^ She may also have been named Judith
  3. ^ The first actual date given for Richard is on August 6, 1629 when he is on the list of the 30 founding members of the First Church (Congregational) of Salem.
  4. ^ Genealogies of the Raymond Families of New England, 1630–1 to 1886: With a Historical Sketch of Some of the Raymonds of Early Times, Their Origin, Etc. Press of J.J. Little & Company. 1886-01-01.
  5. ^ The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie. Harper and Brothers. New York. 1840. pp. 17–18.
  6. ^ The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie. Harper and Brothers. New York. 1840. pp. 18–19.
  7. ^ The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie. Harper and Brothers. New York. 1840. pp. 19–20.
  8. ^ The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie. Harper and Brothers. New York. 1840. p.p. 19-21.
  9. ^ The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie. Harper and Brothers. New York. 1840. pg. 32.
  10. ^ The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie. Harper and Brothers. New York. 1840. p.p. 41-46.
  11. ^ The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie. Harper and Brothers. New York. 1840. pg. 46.
  12. ^ The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie. Harper and Brothers. New York. 1840. pg. 48.
  13. ^ The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie. Harper and Brothers. New York. 1840. pg. 49.
  14. ^ a b c Copes, Jan M. (Fall 1994). "The Perry Family: A Newport Naval Dynasty of the Early Republic". Newport History: Bulletin of the Newport Historical Society. Newport, RI: Newport Historical Society. 66, Part 2 (227): 49–77.
  15. ^ Skaggs, David Curtis. "Oliver Hazard Perry: Honor, Courage, and Patriotism in the Early U.S. Navy". US Naval Institute Press, 2006. P. 4
  16. ^ "BBC – History – William Wallace". Retrieved 2016-05-14.
  17. ^ Capace, Nancy (May 1, 2001). The Encyclopedia of Rhode Island. St. Clair Shores, Michigan: Somerset Publishers, Inc. p. 368. ISBN 9780403096107. Retrieved August 23, 2014.
  18. ^ "Matthew Calbraith Perry" by William Elliot Griffis 1887
  19. ^ http://www.clayfox.com/family/individual.php?pid=I737&ged=bradleys.ged
  20. ^ Items of Interest Concerning Oliver Hazard Perry in Newport, and Newport in the War of 1812. The Society. 1913-01-01.
  21. ^ Boyd, p. 67.
Sources
  • Martin, Samuel J., Southern Hero, Matthew Calbraith Butler, Stackpole Books, 2001. ISBN 0-8117-0899-3.
  • "August Belmont". Time Magazine. 1924-12-22. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
  • Copes, Jan M. (Fall 1994). "The Perry Family: A Newport Naval Dynasty of the Early Republic". Newport History: Bulletin of the Newport Historical Society. Newport, RI: Newport Historical Society. 66, Part 2 (227): 49–77.