Barry, John (1745–1803), a United States naval officer. After John Paul Jones, he was the greatest naval hero of the American Revolution. Barry was born in Ireland. He settled in Philadelphia in 1760 and became a shipmaster at 21. When the Revolution broke out he joined the Continental cause. With the brig Lexington he captured the British sloop Edward (April, 1776). He was named captain of the frigate Effingham, but the ship, trapped in the Delaware, had to be scuttled. During the winter of 1777–78 he led forays with small boats against British shipping on the Delaware. Then he joined the army and led a brigade at Trenton and Princeton.
Back in the navy in 1778, Barry was given command of the frigate Raleigh. He was cornered by a British squadron off Maine and had to run the ship aground to avoid capture. In 1780 Barry took two British sloops of war with the frigate Alliance.
Barry was the last officer to be discharged when the navy was disbanded at the war's end. When the navy was reestablished in 1794 he became its senior captain, serving until his death.