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 William B. Ellery

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William B. Ellery

  • Birth 22 Dec 1727 Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island, USA
  • Death 15 Feb 1820 Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island, USA
  • Burial Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island, USA
  • Memorial ID 2805

Signer of the Declaration of Independence from Rhode Island. He attended Harvard University, and upon graduation, married Ann Remington, with whom he would have six children. He tried to be an attorney, but colonial law didn't always provide a steady income. When his wife died in 1764, he then married Abigail Carey, with whom he had ten more children. Unable to make a successful living as an attorney, he became a merchant, which he successfully made a good living at for the next twenty years. Finally, sufficiently wealthy to pursue his dream, he became a lawyer in 1769. Ellery was known as a gentle and kind man, and loved to garden, spending his free time growing flowers and vegetables. However, when the Stamp Act and the Intolerable Acts began to hurt the colonists, he quickly joined Newport's Sons of Liberty. In March 1776, Samuel Ward, one of the Rhode Island delegates to the Second Continental Congress died of smallpox, and William Ellery was selected to replace him. Ellery would serve in the Continental Congress from 1776 until 1781, and in the Congress of the Confederation from 1783 until 1785. The British did not forget that he signed the Declaration of Independence, and in December 1776, they seized the town of Newport and burned the Ellery family home to the ground. Ellery would have to borrow money from his friends to pay his expenses. Continuing to serve his country in the Congress, one of Ellery's last acts was an unsuccessful attempt to end the practice of slavery in the country. In those days, important people usually traveled by carriage, however, Ellery preferred to travel by horse, and soon became known as the "Congressman on Horseback" for his many travels about Rhode Island to meet his constituents. In 1786, he became the commissioner of the Continental Loan Office for the state of Rhode Island. He served as collector of customs for the city of Newport, RI, from 1790 until his death in 1820.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 27 Apr 1998
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2805
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for William B. Ellery (22 Dec 1727–15 Feb 1820), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2805, citing Common Burying Ground, Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .