Built in 1781 Kearny Cottage was the home of the Kearny family. The most prominent occupant was Commander Lawrence Kearny, Commander for the US Navy’s eastern fleet. He circumnavigated the world in the US Constellation, which is presently docked in Baltimore, MD. He fought pirates in the Caribbean and was involved in promoting the “Open Door” policy promoting free trade with China, i.e., the Opium Wars. He also served as Mayor of Perth Amboy, NJ from 1848 to 1849. – Vilma Novak

Biographical Notes from NJ Historical Society:

Lawrence Kearny, the son of Elizabeth Lawrence and Michael Kearny, was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey in 1789. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1807 as a midshipman, and in 1809, he served aboard the United States Ships Constitution, and President. In 1810, Kearny was transferred to the Enterprise and was on that ship at the beginning of the War of 1812. In August of 1812, Kearny requested a transfer to the Constitution, but instead was given command of the schooner Caroline, and a year later was promoted to lieutenant. Kearny commanded the Ferret and the Nonsuch for the rest of the War of 1812. Shortly before the war was over in 1815 Kearny gained recognition for capturing a British ship.

After a successful expedition against pirates off the southern coast of Cuba in 1821 Kearny was promoted to master commandant, given command of the Warren, and ordered to the Mediterranean Sea to fight Greek pirates preying on international merchant shipping. In 1834, he took command of the Potomac and in 1840, of the Constellation. He was soon sent to Buenos Aires where he became commander of the East India Squadron, consisting of his ship and the Boston, and then ordered to China to defend American mercantile interests during the Opium War (1839-1842). Upon learning that the British had gained preferred trading status with the Chinese at five ports, Kearny took it upon himself to acquire similar privileges for the United States. Ten months later the Chinese granted his request. He then returned to the United States via New Zealand and the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) where he persuaded the British to cease their cessation of the Hawaiian Islands.

Kearny continued working for the U.S. Navy after his long journey to and from China. He was President of the Board of Examiners (of naval officers) (1846), member of the lighthouse board and commander of the Norfolk Navy Yard (1847), mayor of Perth Amboy (1848), superintendent of the Atlantic mail ships (1852), and commander of the New York Navy Yard (1857). Kearny retired from the navy in 1861 and was promoted to commodore on the retired list in 1867. That same year he was also appointed to the New Jersey Board of Pilot Commissioners.

Lawrence Kearny married Josephine C. Hall in 1834 and together they had two children. Kearny died at home, in the Kearny Cottage, in 1868.

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