Held at: Independence Seaport Museum, J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library [Contact Us]Penn's Landing on the Delaware River, 211 South Columbus Blvd. and Walnut St., Philadelphia, PA, 19106
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Independence Seaport Museum, J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
John Barry (1745-1803), often credited as the Father of the American Navy, served the Continental Navy and the United States Navy for seventeen years. He and his descendents, particularly his nephew Patrick Hayes and his grand-nephew Patrick Barry Hayes, became prominent members of Philadelphia society, serving as seamen, merchants, businessmen and politicians.
Barry was born in Ireland on December 7, 1745. While living in Rosslare, Barry began serving as cabin boy on his uncle Nicholas Barry’s fishing boat and quickly rose in rank to serve as mate.
Taking advantage of Philadelphia’s religious tolerance towards Catholics and the maritime tradition of the city, Barry adopted Philadelphia as his home town and captained merchant ships sailing between Philadelphia and the West Indies.
At the start of the revolution, Barry was “given the singularly important task of outfitting the first Continental Navy ships which were put to sea from Philadelphia … includ[ing] overseeing rigging, piercing gun ports, strengthening bulwarks, procuring powder and canvas for the new warships and loading provisions,” (Kelly). Barry served as an officer in the Continental Navy, commanding the Lexington from December 7, 1775 to October 18, 1776. While waiting for a new ship (the Effington) to be built, he served in the Continental Army and saw action in the Battle of Trenton and the Battle of Princeton. Barry returned to sea in 1778 and commanded, for a few months, the Raleigh which was captured by the British in September. During the capture, he saved two thirds of his men and afterwards, gave his famous “Defense of the Raleigh.” Finally, he served as commander of the Alliance. He was wounded on May 29, 1781, during the capture of HMS Atlanta and Trepassey in what was to be the final naval battle of the Revolution off the coast of Cape Canaveral on March 10, 1783.
From 1787 to 1789, Barry returned to captaining merchant ships and was involved in opening commerce with China and the Orient on the ship Asia.
In 1789, the “Constitution of the United States … empowered Congress to provide and maintain a Navy,” (Naval Historical Center) but did not act on that power until 1794, when, the procurement and manning of six frigates was authorized. At the time that the United States Navy was established, Barry was appointed senior captain. On February 22, 1797, George Washing gave him Commission Number 1 in the United States Navy, making him Commodore Barry. He supervised the construction of the Navy’s first frigates.
During the Quasi-War with France from 1798 to 1800, Barry commanded the frigate United States. From 1798 to 1801, he served as head squadron commander of the United States Naval Station in the West Indies at Guadalupe. On March 6, 1801, he retired from active duty, but remained head of the Navy until his death on September 12, 1803.
Barry was known to be “intrepid in battle [and] humane to his men as well as adversaries and prisoners,” (Kelly). He was a member of the Charitable Captains of Ships Club, the Hibernian Fire Company, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and the Order of the Cincinnati. He also authored a signal book in 1780 which established “a set of signals to be used for effective communication between ships voyaging in squadron formation,” (Kelly). He also contributed to the future of the United States Navy by training many sailors who served in the War of 1812.
Barry married Mary Clary (or Cleary) on October 31, 1767. She died at the age of 29 on February 9, 1774. On July 7, 1777 he married Sarah (Sally) Keen Austin. They had no children. Sarah’s nephews Michael and Patrick Hayes came to Philadelphia from Ireland and Patrick Hayes traveled with Barry on the trade voyages to the Orient from 1787 to 1789.
Patrick Hayes (1770-1856) was born in Ireland on October 9, 1770 and immigrated to Philadelphia around 1786 after the deaths of his parents. He served as a merchant sailor, particularly on the Asia, sailing with John Barry to the Orient; as director of the Marine Insurance Company; as Harbor Master for the Port of Philadelphia from 1839 to 1842; and as Master Warden for the Port of Philadelphia from 1843 to 1849. He died in Philadelphia on August 30, 1856 at the age of 85.
Patrick Hayes married Elizabeth Keep on April 8, 1795 and was the father of John Barry Hayes, Sarah Barry Hayes, Thomas Hayes, Isaac Austin Hayes and Patrick Barry Hayes (1809-1863). Patrick Barry Hayes lived and worked in Brazil before returning to Philadelphia, the city of his birth, to serve as United States Appraiser at the Custom House. He also served as the Chief Clerk of the House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. On November 6, 1855, he married Elizabeth Hickman and was the father of Elizabeth Barry Hayes. He died on May 26, 1863.
Kelly, John Barry. "Commodore Barry." http://www.ushistory.org/people/commodorebarry.html (accessed July 7, 2011).
Naval Historical Center. "The Establishment of the Department of the Navy." http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq31-2.htm (accessed July 7, 2011).
Much has been written about John Barry, notably the book John Barry: An American Hero in the Age of Sail, written by Tim McGrath, who used this collection extensively for his research.
The Barry-Hayes papers document John Barry’s business, political and personal life as well as the business and personal lives of his nephew Patrick Hayes, his grand-nephew, Patrick Barry Hayes, and the Hayes, Keen and Somers families. Also well documented are the business ventures of the Hayes, Keen and Somers families.
This collection is divided into seventy-five series, most of which contain only one or two files. Series of particular significance are:
Series 1. John Barry The papers of John Barry mainly focus on his career in the service of the Continental Navy. This series includes a narrative by Barry explaining the loss of the ship Raleigh after an engagement with the Royal Navy (1778), journals from his command of the Alliance (1781, 1783), and petitions to Congress for wages owed for service during the War of the Revolution (1790’s). Also present are a logbook written while in command of the merchant ship Black Prince (1775), letters from relatives in Ireland and elsewhere, accounts and receipts, and a manuscript copy of his last will and testament (1803).
Series 2. Sarah Barry In this series are a few items of correspondence, bills and receipts of Sarah Barry, wife of John Barry, and several receipts pertaining to the disposition of her estate.
Series 3. Patrick Hayes This series includes Patrick Hayes’ diary of his voyage, with John Barry, to Macao aboard the ship Asia (1787), correspondence and business papers related to his career as a shipmaster and merchant involved with the China and West Indies trades, and personal accounts, bills and receipts. Frequent correspondents include M. D. Dougherty, T. Reilly, William Bainbridge, George L. Harris, Fitch Brothers, Baring Brothers & Co., Francis Moran, and Hayes’ sons Isaac and Thomas, and their letters offer details about sailing conditions, amounts and sales of cargo, insurance, and other business matters.
Series 11. Patrick Barry Hayes Series 11 contains correspondence and business papers detailing Barry Hayes’ business ventures and career as a commission merchant in Brazil, and includes a “scrap and letterbook” with entries describing his first year in that country. Letters he received from family in Philadelphia and friends such as William Bainbridge, Jr., James Grogan, Joseph Inslee (signed Oje Eelsni), Charles Evans and Robert Lynch, contain news about social events and gossip about mutual acquaintances. Also present are financial papers such as bills, receipts and checks.
Series 12. Hayes, Engerer & Co. Correspondence and accounts of the firm Hayes, Engerer & Co., established by Isaac Austin Hayes and Lewis Frederick Engerer in Rio Grande, Brazil are found in this series. Both Isaac Austin Hayes and Patrick Barry Hayes worked for this company.
Series 13–57 In the series 13-57 are papers of other family members, especially those of the Austin, Keen and Somers families, or business associates, and include correspondence, legal, financial and estate papers, land surveys, indentures and memoranda.
Series 58. Ships’ Papers This series contains accounts, receipts, invoices, bills of lading, crew lists, insurance policies, and memoranda pertaining to ships in which members of the Barry, Hayes, Somers and/or Keen families and their associates had interests. Ships Dorothea, George Washington, Margaret, Emma, Superior and Tontine are particularly well represented. Of note is a “Memorandum relating to the Trade at Canton” in an unidentified hand, which describes business practices foreign traders face upon arrival in China (oversize volume).
Donated by Florence, Austin and William Hepburn. ISM accession numbers: 1966.17; 1966.88; 1984.93; 1986.22; 1986.43. The collections were consolidated in 1989 in order to reestablish original order and to facilitate access.
The William Penn Foundation provided funding for conservation done by the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts, 1989-1990.
The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
Finding aid entered into the Archivists' Toolkit by Garrett Boos.
- Independence Seaport Museum, J. Welles Henderson Archives and Library
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Megan Hahn Fraser
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- The creation of the electronic guide for this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project. Finding aid entered into the Archivists' Toolkit by Garrett Boos.
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