Bullet-Point Bio: William Ellery

-Lived from December 22, 1727 – February 15th, 1820.
-Signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation.
-Born and lived in Newport, Rhode Island.
-Was one of two delegates from Rhode Island.

-Graduated from Harvard College.
-He wanted to become an attorney; however, he worked as a merchant for 20 years until he had enough money to study and start practicing law.
-Ellery and his first wife, Ann Remington, had six children.  After Ann’s death, he married Abigail Carey and they had ten children.
-When British oppressions started increasing, Ellery became active in the Rhode Island Sons of Liberty.
-In 1776, Ellery was sent to take the place of Samuel Ward, a delegate to the Continental Congress, after Ward’s death from smallpox.
-He became known as “the Congressman on Horseback” as his dislike of carriages caused him to ride horseback most of the time.
-During the British occupation of Newport from 1776-1779, the British took over his home, burning it when they left.
-He served on many committees in Congress.
-President George Washington appointed Ellery as U.S. Collector of Customs for Newport in 1790.  Ellery held this position for thirty years (until his death).
-He gave much time to the study of the Bible.
-According to John Sanderson in Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence, Ellery was known for saying, “The Lord reigneth,” when hearing of or discussing problems in the U.S. or abroad.  In addition, the young loved him for his cheering counsel and youthful sympathy.
-His other public service included working as a clerk for the Rhode Island General Assembly and serving as a judge on the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
-It is interesting to note that his son, Francis Dana, was U.S. Ambassador to Russia in the 1780’s.
-Ellery died at age 92 in good health and mind – still reading Latin and Cicero!
-Both Ellery Avenue in Middleton, Rhode Island and the town of Ellery, New York are named for him.


-Photo credit: Wikipedia public domain
– For You They Signed, 2009, Marilyn Boyer
Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence, John Sanderson

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