Matthew Perry was born in Newport, Rhode Island in 1794 and
joined the then young U.S. Navy at the age of 14. He achieved
an impressive naval career. He fought in the War of 1812 and
served on cruises to West Africa, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean,
and Mexico. In 1814 he was married to Jane Slidell, the daughter
of a wealthy New York merchant and banker and their wedding
ceremony took place at Grace Church on Broadway and 10th Street.
When he was not at the sea, he spent most of his time at his
home in Manhattan.
From 1833-43, Perry was stationed at the New York Naval Yard
(now known as the Brooklyn Navy Yard) where he oversaw recruiting
activities and established programs for the education of Naval
officers. During this period, Perry and his family lived at
95 Spring Street.
After returning from his famous expedition to Japan (that
lasted from 1853-54), Perry served on a naval advisory board,
but he never sailed again. He lived at 38 West 38th Street
and spent most of his time writing the three-volume Narrative
of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas
and Japan. However, his health soon declined, perhaps hastened
by his many years of hard service at sea, and he died on March
In his will Perry asked that his remains be buried at Newport,
but due to bad weather, his body could not be transported.
He was buried in the family vault of his wife's family, the
Slidells, at St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery in the East Village
in Manhattan. Finally, in 1864, 8 years after his death, his
remains were transferred to Newport.
St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery was completed in 1799 on the
site of a chapel originally built by Peter Stuyvesant, Governor
of New Amsterdam, New York City's Dutch predecessor. In the
burial yards near the east and west sides of the chapel are
stone vaults, in which the coffins of wealthy New York families
from the first half of the 19th century were placed. The vault
of the Slidell family, where Perry's remains were first buried,
is located along a path on the west side. Although his body
is no longer there, a stone engraved "Commodore Matthew
Galbraith Perry 1794-1855" remains.