John Barry (naval officer)
An 1801 Gilbert Stuart portrait of Barry.
|Born||March 25, 1745|
Tacumshane, County Wexford, Ireland
|Died||September 13, 1803 (aged 58)|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Service/|| Continental Navy|
United States Navy
|Years of service||1776–1783, 1797–1803|
|Battles/wars||American Revolutionary War|
John Barry (March 25, 1745 – September 13, 1803) was an officer in the Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War and later in the United States Navy. He came to be widely credited as "The Father of the American Navy" (and shares that moniker with John Paul Jones and John Adams) and was appointed a captain in the Continental Navy on December 7, 1775. He was the first captain placed in command of a U.S. warship commissioned for service under the Continental flag.
After the war, he became the first commissioned U.S. naval officer, at the rank of commodore, receiving his commission from President George Washington in 1797.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Career
- 3 Later life and death
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Commemorations
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
Early life and education
Barry was born on March 25, 1745, in Tacumshane, County Wexford, Ireland. When Barry's family was evicted from their home by their British landlord, they moved to Rosslare on the coast, where his uncle worked a fishing skiff. As a young man, Barry determined upon a life as a seaman, and he started out as a ship's cabin boy.
Barry received his first captain's commission in the Continental Navy on March 14, 1776, signed by John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress. Barry was a religious man and began each day at sea with a reading from the Bible. He had great regard for his crew and their well being and always made sure they were properly provisioned while at sea.
Command of Delaware
Command of Raleigh
In 1778 Barry assumed command of USS Raleigh, capturing three prizes before being run aground in action on September 27, 1778. Her crew scuttled her, but she was raised by the British, who refloated her for further use in the Royal Navy.
Command of Lexington
Captain Barry was given command of USS Lexington, of 14 guns, on December 7, 1775. It was the first commission issued by the Continental Congress. The Lexington sailed March 31, 1776. On April 7, 1776, off the Capes of Virginia, he fell in with the Edward, tender to the British man-of-war HMS Liverpool, and after a desperate fight of one hour and twenty minutes captured her and brought her into Philadelphia.
On June 28, Pennsylvania's brig Nancy arrived in the area with 386 barrels of powder in her hold and ran aground while attempting to elude British blockader Kingfisher. Barry ordered the precious powder rowed ashore during the night leaving only 100 barrels in Nancy at dawn. A delayed action fuse was left inside the brig, which exploded the powder just as a boatload of British seamen boarded Nancy. This engagement became known as the Battle of Turtle Gut Inlet.
Barry continued in command of Lexington until October 18, 1776, and captured several private armed vessels during that time.
Barry authored a signal book published in 1780 to improve communications at sea among vessels traveling in formation.
Command of Alliance
John Barry was once offered 100,000 British pounds and command of any frigate in the entire British Navy if he would desert the American Navy. Outraged at the offer, Captain Barry responded that not all the money in the British treasury or command of its entire fleet could tempt him to desert his adopted country.
On February 22, 1797, he was issued Commission Number 1 by President George Washington, backdated to June 4, 1794. His title was thereafter "commodore." He is recognized as not only the first American commissioned naval officer but also as its first flag officer.
Command of United States
Appointed senior captain upon the establishment of the U.S. Navy, he commanded the frigate United States in the Quasi-War with France. This ship transported commissioners William Richardson Davie and Oliver Ellsworth to France to negotiate a new Franco-American alliance.
Barry's last day of active duty was March 6, 1801, when he brought USS United States into port, but he remained head of the Navy until his death on September 13, 1803, from asthma. Barry died childless.
Later life and death
Barry died at Strawberry Hill, in present-day Philadelphia on September 13, 1803, and was buried in the graveyard of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church.  The executors of his estate were his wife Sarah, his nephew Patrick Hayes and his friend John Leamy.
On October 24, 1768, Barry married Mary Cleary, who died in 1774. On July 7, 1777, he married Sarah Austin, daughter of Samuel Austin and Sarah Keen of New Jersey. Barry had no children, but he helped raise Patrick and Michael Hayes, children of his sister, Eleanor, and her husband, Thomas Hayes, who both died in the 1780s.
- The U.S. Revenue Cutter Commodore Barry, captured off Maine in the War of 1812
- Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn, New York. It is the oldest park in the borough. It was renamed for Commodore Barry in 1951, due to its location next to the Brooklyn Navy Yard that Barry helped found.
- Four U.S. Navy ships
- In World War II, the United States liberty ship SS John Barry was named in his honor.
- There is a large portrait of Commodore Barry at the Rhode Island State House in Providence; and Title 16 of the Rhode Island Statutes (§ 16-20-3 – Days of special observance) requires observing September 13 as Commodore John Barry Day.
- Commodore Barry Bridge, which crosses the Delaware River from Chester, Pennsylvania to Bridgeport, New Jersey.
- John Barry Hall at Villanova University
- Commodore Barry Club (Philadelphia Irish Center) Emlen St & Carpenter Lane, Mt Airy, Phila Pennsylvania
- Barry Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania
- Commodore John Barry Elementary School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Commodore John Barry Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois
- Commodore John Barry Division of Ancient Order of Hibernians, Annapolis, Maryland
- John Barry Bar, Grand Hyatt Muscat, Muscat, Oman
- September 13, Commodore John Barry Day in New Jersey public schools
- Commodore John Barry Memorial Plaque at Staten Island Borough Hall
- A new plaque with a cannon was dedicated on March 10, 2007, in Port Canaveral.
- A plaque stands in the city of Boston at Boston Common.
- A plaque commemorating Barry and his crew of the Alliance for the final naval battle of the American Revolution is located at Jetty Park in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
- A stone plaque commemorating his grave site is located at Old St. Mary's Church in Philadelphia, PA.
- A 6 ft. bronze statue of Commodore John Barry stands in Franklin Square (between I and K sts. on 14th st. N.W.) in Washington, D.C.
- Barry Hall is one of six military barracks facilities at the United States Merchant Marine Academy and is named in honor of the American Merchant Mariner turned Naval Hero John Barry.
- An entrance to the United States Naval Academy, from Downtown Annapolis to the Visitor's Center, commemorates Commodore John Barry.
- A large statue of Barry stands directly in front of the formal entrance to Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA.
- A statue of Barry overlooks the Crescent Quay in Wexford town in Ireland. It was a gift to the town from the United States and was delivered by a United States Navy destroyer USS John R. Pierce (DD-753). The statue was unveiled in 1956, and each year a parade and wreath-laying ceremony takes place at the statue to celebrate "Barry Day", commemorated by the Irish Naval Service and the Minister for Defence.
- Bibliography of early American naval history
- Commodore Stephen Decatur
- Commodore John Hazelwood
- Irish military diaspora
- William Brown (admiral), "Father of the Argentine Navy"
- List of people on stamps of Ireland
- "John Adams I (Frigate) 1799–1867". USA.gov. Retrieved August 22, 2015.
- Williams, 2008 p. 5
- Meany, 1911 p. 1
- Williams, 2008 p. 73
- Meany, 1911 p. 22
- Ignatius, Griffin, 1897 pp. 42–44
- Williams, 2008 p. 72
- "Lexington". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History and Heritage Command.
- "The Battle of Turtle Gut Inlet". Wildwood Crest Historical Society.
- Woods, D. & Sterling, C. Signaling and communicating at sea. Arno Press, 1980. p. 195
- Brotemarkle, Ben (November 15, 2017). "Revising Cape Canaveral history mean giving up some lore". Florida Today. Melbourne, Florida. pp. 14A.
- "Alliance". Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Navy Department, Naval History and Heritage Command.
- The American Irish Blog
- specifically issued by a Joint Congressional Resolution and proclaimed by President George W. Bush on December 22, 2006.
- Meany, 1911 pp. 56–57
- John Barry at Find a Grave
- "Will of Commodore John Barry". American Catholic Historical Researches. 12 (2): 157–158. October 1895. JSTOR 44373894.
- Clark, William Bell (1938). Gallant John Barry 1745 1803 The Story Of A Naval Hero Of Two Wars.
The Macmillan Company, New York. p. 554. URL
- Fink, Leo Gregory (1962). Barry or Jones, "Father of the United States Navy"; Historical Reconnaissance.
Jefferies & Manz, Inc, Philadelphia. p. 138. URL
- Ignatius, Martin; Griffin, Joseph (1897). The history of Commodore John Barry.
Published by the Author, Philadelphia. p. 261. URL
- —— (1903). Commodore John Barry: "the father of the American navy".
Published by the Author, Philadelphia. p. 424. URL
- McGrath, Tim (2010). John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail.
AuthorHouse, IN. p. 704. ISBN 978-1-59416-104-9. URL
- Meany, William Barry (1911). Commodore John Barry, the father of the American navy:
a survey of extraordinary episodes in his naval career.
Harper & brothers, New York, London. p. 74. URL
- Williams, Thomas (2008). America's First Flag Officer: Father of the American Navy.
AuthorHouse, IN. p. 260. ISBN 978-1-4343-8654-0. URL
- Fowler, William M. (1976). Rebels under Sail: The American Navy during the Revolution. New York: Charles Scribner and Sons. p. 356. ISBN 978-0-684-14583-9. URL
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to John Barry.|
- Webb, Alfred (1878). . A Compendium of Irish Biography. Dublin: M. H. Gill & son – via Wikisource.
- Father of the American Navy
- Portraits of Barry
- Barry-Hayes Collection, papers at Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, digitized by Villanova University's Digital Library, Villanova, Pennsylvania.