Christopher Raymond Perry

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Christopher Raymond Perry (December 4, 1761 – June 1, 1818) was an officer in the United States Navy. He was the father of Oliver Hazard Perry and Matthew Calbraith Perry.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

He was born in Newport, Rhode Island, the son of the Honorable Freeman Perry and his wife Mercy Hazard.[1] Christopher's father, Freeman, was a physician and surgeon. In 1780, he was appointed Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas (equivalent to a District Court today) for Washington County, Rhode Island, which position he held until 1791.

Career[edit]

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.[2]

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.[3]

Perry then enlisted on another privateer which was captured off the coast of Great Britain. Perry then 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.[4]

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.[5]

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.[6]

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.[7]

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.[8]

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 Green 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.[9]

Later life[edit]

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.[10]

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 1718 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.

Relations[edit]

Ancestors[edit]

Captain Perry was the great-grandson of Edward Perry from the county of Devon, England who settled in Sandwich, Massachusetts around 1650 and 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 (or Judith). He was born probably in Essex County, England in 1602 and arrived in Salem, Massachusetts about 1629, possibly with a contingent led by the Rev. Francis Higginson. 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. He was about 27 years old. He was later a founder of Norwich, Connecticut, and an "honored fore-father of Saybrook".[11]

Perry's mother was also a descendant of Governor Thomas Prence (1599 – March 29, 1673), a co-founder of Eastham, Massachusetts, 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 – April 10, 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).

Marriage and family[edit]

Perry married Sarah Wallace Alexander on August 2, 1784 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,[12]: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.[13][14]

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

  • Captain Oliver Hazard Perry (1785–1919) q.v.
  • Lieutenant Raymond Henry Jones Perry (1789–1826) – served in the U.S. Navy from 1807 until his death.
  • Captain Matthew Calbraith Perry (1794–1858) q.v.
  • Lieutenant James Alexander Perry (1801–1822) – 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) – Served as a purser (i.e., a supply and pay officer) in the U.S. Navy from 1820 until his death.

Of their three daughters, Jane Tweedy Perry married surgeon, later United States Congressman, William Butler, Jr.[15] and Anna Marie Perry married Captain George Washington Rodgers, USN.[12]:66 Sarah Wallace Perry never married.[12]:66

Descendants[edit]

Captain Christopher Raymond Perry's descendants number in the thousands today. Some of his notable descendants include:[16]

Perrys[edit]

Rodgers[edit]

  • Rear Admiral Christopher Raymond Perry Rodgers (November 4, 1819 – January 8, 1892) was an officer in the United States Navy. He served in the Mexican–American War, the American Civil War, as Superintendent of the Naval Academy, and Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Squadron.
  • Rear Admiral Thomas S. Rodgers (August 18, 1858 – February 28, 1931) was an officer in the United States Navy who served during the Spanish–American War and World War I.
  • Rear Admiral Raymond Perry Rodgers (December 20, 1849 – December 28, 1925) was an officer in the United States Navy and the second head of the Office of Naval Intelligence.
  • Calbraith Perry Rodgers (January 12, 1879 – April 3, 1912) was a pioneer American aviator who was the first civilian to purchase a Wright Flyer and the first to make a transcontinental flight.
  • Commander John Rodgers (January 15, 1881 – August 27, 1926) was an officer in the United States Navy and an early aviator.

Belmonts[edit]

  • Perry Belmont (December 28, 1851 – May 25, 1947), United States statesman, was born in New York City. He served as a United States Representative from New York and the United States Minister to Spain. He also served as an officer in the U.S. Army during both the Spanish–American War and World War I.
  • August Belmont, Jr. (February 18, 1853 – December 10, 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 (November 12, 1858 – June 10, 1908) was a wealthy American socialite and United States Representative from New York. He was the second husband of Alva Vanderbilt Belmont.

Others[edit]

  • William Tiffany (1868–1898), 2nd lieutenant in the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry (a.k.a. Roosevelt's Rough Riders) who died of yellow fever shortly after returning to the United States after serving in Cuba during the Spanish–American War.
  • Matthew Calbraith Butler,[17] (March 8, 1836 – April 14, 1909). He was an American military commander and politician from South Carolina. He served as a major general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, postbellum three-term United States Senator, and a major general in the United States Army during the Spanish–American War.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Phillipson, Mark. "PhpGedView User Login - PhpGedView". www.clayfox.com. Retrieved 2016-05-14. 
  2. ^ The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie. Harper and Brothers. New York. 1840. pp. 17–18.
  3. ^ The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie. Harper and Brothers. New York. 1840. pp. 18–19.
  4. ^ The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie. Harper and Brothers. New York. 1840. pp. 19–20.
  5. ^ The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie. Harper and Brothers. New York. 1840. p.p. 19-21.
  6. ^ The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie. Harper and Brothers. New York. 1840. pg. 32.
  7. ^ The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie. Harper and Brothers. New York. 1840. p.p. 41-46.
  8. ^ The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie. Harper and Brothers. New York. 1840. pg. 46.
  9. ^ The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie. Harper and Brothers. New York. 1840. pg. 48.
  10. ^ The Life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Alexander Slidell Mackenzie. Harper and Brothers. New York. 1840. pg. 49.
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ Skaggs, David Curtis. "Oliver Hazard Perry: Honor, Courage, and Patriotism in the Early U.S. Navy". US Naval Institute Press, 2006. P. 4
  14. ^ "BBC – History – William Wallace". Retrieved 2016-05-14. 
  15. ^ http://www.clayfox.com/family/individual.php?pid=I737&ged=bradleys.ged
  16. ^ Items of Interest Concerning Oliver Hazard Perry in Newport, and Newport in the War of 1812. The Society. 1913-01-01. 
  17. ^ Boyd, p. 67.

References[edit]

  • 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.