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    The Near-death Experience    
of David Perry (1762)

from the record of Capt. David Perry completed in 1819

 
INTRODUCTION
by D.G. Jones, M.M. © 2003-2013
 
Sergeant David Perry<1> was on his way home from the hospital at Halifax, Nova Scotia.
In late summer he had fought in the recapture of St. John’s, Newfoundland<2>,
the last North American land battle of the French and Indian War. It was his fourth campaign.
He had just turned 21, and had contracted “the nervous fever”
--typhus.  
 
It is late autumn, 1762...
 
(Vision of Revolutionary War.)    
 
NOTE: There are incorrect reports and unauthorized copies* out there.  

(Notes.)   (Sources.)   (How to cite this page.)   (On-site Links.)
 
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[Excerpt from Recollections of an Old Soldier: The Life of Captain David Perry. Combined electronic edition, D.G. Jones, ed. © 1998.]  
 
"[Perry's] tale bears the impress of simplicity and truth"--printer Simeon Ide, 1822<3>

 
"...While I was on board that vessel, it appears to me that I died -- that I went through the excruciating pains of the separating of soul and body, as completely as ever I shall again (and such a separation must soon take place ),<4> and that I was immediately conveyed to the gate of Heaven, and was going to pass in; but was told by One, that I could not enter then, but in process of time, if I would behave as he directed, on the set time I should have admittance.

“It appeared to me that my feet stood on a firm foundation and that I stood there for the space of about a half hour. In this time there appeared to be a continual flowing up of people, as we suppose they die; and none stopped, but all passed off, one way or the other. Just at my left hand, there appeared to be the opening of a great gulph, and the greater part of the grown people seemed to pass off there. Once in a while one passed through the gate into the Holy City.<5> One person appeared, with whom I had been intimately acquainted, and it appeared to me that I knew him as well as ever I did: it was Doctor Matthews -- (and whether I saw him or not, he died, as I afterwards learned, while I was sick on board the ship).

“The One that talked with me, told me about the Revolutionary War, and showed me the British vessels in the harbor of Boston, as plainly as I saw them when they came. And during the first year of that war [1775], I was down there in Gen. Putnam’s regiment, and I went on Roxbury Hill to see the shipping in the harbor, and they looked exactly as they had been shown to me many years before--

“This transition (as I firmly believe) from life to death, and from death to life, which took place nearly sixty years ago, is as fresh in my mind now as it was then; and not many days have passed from that time to this, which have not brought the interesting scenes I then witnessed, clearly to view in my mind. But I never dared to say anything about it, for a great many years after wards, for fear of being ridiculed. But about the last of February or first of January, 1763, peace was declared between England, France and Spain, and the people rejoiced exceedingly on account of it. I told them we should have another war soon. They asked me why I thought so. I told them the British had settled peace with their foreign enemies, but they could not long live in peace, and they would come against us next.

“But I never told my own wife,<6> nor any other person, of what happened to me on board the vessel, as above related, for nearly thirty years afterwards, when a great deal was said in the neighborhood where I lived, about one Polly Davis of Grantham, N.H.,<7> who was taken very sick, so that no one thought she could live long, and many times the people thought she was dying. In one of these turns she had a dream or vision, by which she was assured that, on a stated Sunday, she should be healed, and go to meeting the same day. On the Saturday night, previous to the time appointed, many people stood round her bed, expecting every moment that she would breathe her last: but when the hour she had mentioned arrived, she rose from her bed, and said she was well: and Captain Robert Scott carried her some distance to meeting, behind him on horse back, the same day she recovered. There was so much talk about it, that I ventured to tell my experience as before described, and have since told it to a great many people; and some believe it, and others do not . . ."  
 
--Capt. David Perry
 
(NOTE: This experience occurred in 1762. Perry kept it private for nearly thirty years. He recorded it as part of his Recollections in the winter of 1818-1819.).
 
[Read in the Context of Perry's narrative...]  
 
[Excerpt from Recollections of an Old Soldier: The Life of Captain David Perry. Combined, Electronic edition, D.G. Jones, ed. © 1998.] 
 
Sources
 
Incorrect Information Online:

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NOTES:

1 David Perry = Capt. David Perry (1741-1826), who served as a sergeant in the British provincial ranger forces during the recapture of St. John's, Newfoundland, from the French. Later, he served as a lieutenant during the Revolutionary War, and also witnessed, from afar, the battle on Lake Champlain during the "second war for independence": the War of 1812.   (Source: Perry, David. Recollections of an old soldier: the life of Captain David Perry, a soldier of the French and Revolutionary Wars, containing many extraordinary occurrences relating to his own private history, and an account of some interesting events in the history of the times in which he lived, no-where else re-corded / written by himself.   Jones, Denise G., ed. , 1998 combined, electronic edition. Originally pub: Windsor, Vermont: Republican and Yeoman Printing-Office, 1822.)

2 Perry's eye-witness account of the taking on Signal Hill from the French in that six-day campaign is the only extant record by an actual participant. See Chapter 5.

3 Simeon Ide, who generously printed Capt. David Perry's manuscript (Windsor, VT: Republican & Yeoman Printing Office, 1822) gives his impressions of the character of the "writer of [this] Narrative," a "hoary-headed veteran of four score...[who] had spent many days of his old age, in noting down, as the only legacy he could bequeath his posterity, the leading incidents of his life, and of the momentous times through which he had passed."*   Of his meeting with Capt. Perry, Ide says:

"Who could withstand the solicitations of a war-worn Soldier of the Revolution, whose tale bears the impress of simplicity and truth, while it evinces no ordinary degree of devotion to the cause of liberty and his country? It was not in the Printer to do it."

(Source: Advertisement [Preface], 1822 edition.)

4 It is significant to the experience that Perry says, "I went through the excruciating pains of the separating of soul and body;" and not simply that he went through the excruciating pain of typhus, a horrible disease from which death would be a welcome release. It is to be inferred, therefore, that the connection between the soul (or spirit) and the body of man, and the severing of that connection, is what Perry refers to. (The numerous descendants of David Perry who joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [LDS Church] and other LDS readers, will want to see: Alma 36:21 [10-23]; Alma 40: 11-12 [11-23]; and D&C 138:17 [11-19]. (Thanks to descendant of David Perry, Mark Pope, for his insight in discussing this aspect of Perry's experience.)
 
David Perry was recording this experience during the winter of 1818-1819 at the age of 78, nearly six decades after its occurrence. At that time, he was living in Chelsea, VT, and had 8 children, at least 30 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. He died in Ira, VT, and was buried in May, 1826, seven years after his manuscript’s completion.

5 On the gulph (gulf), see Luke 16:26. (LDS descendants and readers will want to see also Helaman 3:29 [27-30] and 1 Nephi 15:28, etc. Compare David Perry's account with Alma 40:11-12 and Doctrine & Covenants Section 137.   On children and eternal life see Mosiah 15:25.)   For a better understanding of David Perry's wording, it is valuable to study religion in the New England States. Although Capt. Perry was a member of the Congregational Church for his early life, and later followed a his wife's brother-in-law (a lay Baptist minister) to Plainfield, New Hampshire, the 1780 Anglican Book of Common Prayer• is particularly valuable. (See also Influences.)

6 Anna Bliss, daughter of John Bliss and Rebecca (Whittaker) Bliss of Rehoboth. They were married 12 Jan 1764, when David Perry was 23, “at which time,” he says “I was not worth ten dollars, besides my clothes,” having "spent or lost" his wages for the campaign of 1762 "by reason of sickness" and all his belongings besides the clothes on his back. He followed his trade however (shoe-making and tanning), and “made a comfortable living by it” (source: Chapter 6. On his trade, see also Chapter 1 and the beginning of Chapter 5).

7 David Perry moved his family to Plainfield, New Hampshire, in 1779. They lived there for 18 years. David Perry served as a Selectman of Plainfield for 9 of those years, and as a captain in the N.H. militia for 8. He received his captain’s commission in 1785. (See Chapter 10.)

________________________________________
 
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Note on Incorrect Information Online:
 
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