James De Wolf Perry

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The Most Reverend
James De Wolf Perry III
Bishop James DeWolf Perry III.jpg
Bishop Perry as a young man
7th Bishop of Rhode Island
In office
Preceded by William N. McVickar
Succeeded by Granville G. Bennett
Personal details
Born (1871-11-03)November 3, 1871
Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died March 20, 1947(1947-03-20) (aged 75)
Summerville, South Carolina
Parents James De Wolf Perry II
Education Germantown Academy
University of Pennsylvania

The Right Reverend James DeWolf Perry (October 3, 1871 – March 20, 1947) was an American Episcopal clergyman and prelate. He was the 7th Bishop of Rhode Island (1911-1946) and the 18th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church (1930-1937).


The third of five children, Perry was born in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to the Rev. James DeWolf Perry II and Elizabeth Russell Tyson.[1] His father was rector of Calvary Church in Germantown; he was also a descendant of Captain Christopher Raymond Perry, (who was the father of Commodores Oliver Hazard Perry and Matthew C. Perry), and Senators William Bradford and James De Wolf, and was great great grandson of Lieutenant Benjamin Bourne who served in the American Revolution.[2]

The Rev. James DeWolf Perry II, father of Bishop Perry

After graduating from Germantown Academy in 1887, he received Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in 1891 and from Harvard University in 1892.[3] In 1895 he earned a Bachelor of Divinity from the Episcopal Theological School.[2] Perry was ordained a deacon by Bishop William Lawrence on June 9, 1895 and a priest on February 18, 1896.[4] He then served as a curate at Christ Church[5] in Springfield, Massachusetts until 1897, when he was named rector of Christ Church in Fitchburg. During the Spanish–American War, he was chaplain of the 6th Massachusetts Infantry from 1898 to 1904. In 1904 he became rector of St. Paul's Church[6] in New Haven.[2] In 1908 he married Edith Dean Weir (daughter of John Ferguson Weir). She was an author[7][8] and painter of miniatures.[9][10][11] They had three children: James DeWolf, John Weir, and Beatrice Weir.[3]

On September 21, 1910, Perry was elected the 7th Bishop of Rhode Island at age 39[2] and was consecrated on January 6, 1911 by Bishops Daniel Sylvester Tuttle, Leigh R. Brewer, and William Lawrence.[12]

Perry was admitted as a member of the Rhode Island Society of the Cincinnati in 1915 and became president of the Society in 1921.

During World War I, he served as chief of Red Cross chaplains in France from 1918 to 1919.[2]

On March 26, 1930, Perry was elected the 18th Presiding Bishop by the House of Bishops.[3] He was the last Presiding Bishop to retain his diocesan jurisdiction while serving in the national post.[4]

In August 1930, he was chosen to deliver the farewell sermon at the Lambeth Conference and invited to lay the cornerstone of St. Andrew's Cathedral in Aberdeen.[2] Especially interested in foreign missions, he once spent five months visiting mission stations in the Philippines, China, Japan, and Hawaii.[4]

The French government awarded him the Legion of Honor in 1934.

In a rare instance, he participated directly in politics in 1937 when he accepted an appointment to the Republican Party's Committee on Program, which was charged with drafting "a declaration of principles to redefine the party's stand on political and economic issues."[13]

He retired as Presiding Bishop in 1937, and as Bishop of Rhode Island in 1946.[4] Perry died at the age of 75 from a heart attack in Summerville, South Carolina.


  1. ^ "James-John Perry". Landers Genealogy. Archived from the original on 2009-10-26. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE". University of Rhode Island. 
  3. ^ a b c "Religion: Primate Perry". TIME Magazine. 1930-04-07. 
  4. ^ a b c d "James Dewolf Perry (1930-1937)". Episcopal Church (United States). Archived from the original on 2011-07-28. 
  5. ^ cccspfld.org
  6. ^ "St.Paul's Church". Stpaulstjames.org. 2014-04-14. Retrieved 2014-08-12. 
  7. ^ Perry, Edith Weir (1934). An Altar Guild Manual. Milwaukee, Wis., revised 1945, 1951, and 1963; reprinted 1969, 1989, 1996: Morehouse Publishing Co. 
  8. ^ Perry, Edith Weir (1940). Under Four Tudors, Being the story of Matthew Parker sometime Archbishop of Canterbury. London, reprinted 1964: G. Allen & Unwin. 
  9. ^ The exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, 1900: the one hundred and thirty-second. London: Clowes and Sons. 1900. 
  10. ^ Le Salon CXXI Exposition Officielle. Paris. 1903. 
  11. ^ Wardle, Marian (2011). The Weir Family, 1820-1920: Expanding the Traditions of American Art. Lebanon NH: University Press of New England. 
  12. ^ "PECUSA Bishop listpg-p". Apostolic Episcopate Succession Online Project. Archived from the original on 2009-05-17. 
  13. ^ New York Times: "Republicans Name Glenn Frank Head of Policy Group," Dec. 17, 1937, accessed Dec. 10, 2009
Episcopal Church (USA) titles
Preceded by
Charles Palmerston Anderson
18th Presiding Bishop
March 26, 1930 - December 31, 1937
Succeeded by
Henry St. George Tucker
Preceded by
William N. McVickar
7th Bishop of Rhode Island
Succeeded by
Granville G. Bennett