John Avery was born in Preston, Connecticut, on August 19, 1819, and had several siblings: Robert S., Isaac, Erasmus, George, Sarah, and Eunice. He graduated from Yale College in 1843, and then entered Yale Divinity School, from which he graduated in 1847. Ordained on June 21, 1848, Avery preached for the Exeter Congregationalist church in Lebanon, Connecticut. In 1870, he served as a representative for the Connecticut legislature, and he remained in Lebanon until April 29, 1873. Shortly thereafter, he moved to a church in Central Village, Connecticut, and then to West Woodstock, Connecticut. In November 1881, Avery took charge of the Congregationalist church in Ledyard, Connecticut, where he served until April 1, 1892. After his work in Ledyard, he retired to Norwich, Connecticut, but remained active in religious life and occasionally preached for special occasions. He married Susan Champion on November 6, 1851, and the couple had one surviving daughter, Mary A. Avery. In 1901, Avery published a history of Ledyard, Connecticut. He died in 1902.