William Ellery
Burial Location Visited DoI Signer Grave #
Newport, Rhode Island August 17, 2009 11th Visited


William Ellery lived until a ripe old age and                                 Ellery and Stephen Hopkins were the only
was interred in Newport's Common Burial                                  men to sign the Declaration on the behalf
Ground following his death.                                                      of Rhode Island.


A metal fence with sharp points                                                 Siding with the rebellious colonists when
surrounds Ellery's burial plot.                                                    trouble arose with Great Britain, Ellery was
Based on personal experience, I                                                 a member of the Sons of Liberty. He also
can say that this is not a fun                                                      was an abolitionist.
one to climb. Definitely not
recommended whatsoever.

                                       *** Interesting Facts ***

* Entering this world on December 22, 1727, William Ellery grew up in Newport, where his ancestors had settled years prior. Educated in his youth by his father, William enrolled at Harvard University at the age of sixteen. Young Ellery made his return to Newport after a four year experience at college. He then chose to study law for some time, although he would not establish a practice until 1770. In the meantime, Ellery worked in the capacity of a customs collector, a merchant, and as the clerk of the Rhode Island General Assembly.

* Ellery was a member of an esteemed group of men that, in 1764, were involved in the chartering of the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Originally located in Warren, the school later moved to Providence and had its name changed to Brown University. Another founder of Brown, Samuel Ward, was a Rhode Islander who was very dedicated to the patriot cause and served in the Second Continental Congress. Following his death from smallpox in 1776, William Ellery was chosen to replace him there.

* It has been said that William Ellery was an "active and influential member" of the Second Continental Congress. After he had served in that body for a short few months, he attached his signature to the Declaration of Independence, which the Congress had adopted in July. The Newport native stood by as his fellow statesmen affixed their names to the paper, saying, "I was determined to see how they all looked as they signed what might be their death warrant." Ellery went on to comment how undaunted all of the signatories looked as they did so.

* Each member of the Continental Congress was aware that there were risks that came with being associated with the Declaration of Independence, and those who signed it proved that they were willing to take those risks. William Ellery proved to be one of the signatories who would pay for what he believed in. When the British seized control of his hometown in December of 1776, they made sure to burn down Ellery's property.

* During his lengthy tenure in the Continental Congress, Ellery was appointed to the Marine Committee and also the Board of Admiralty. He left the Congress in 1785, at which time he was serving as a justice of the Supreme Court of Rhode Island. Later, in 1790, Ellery was named the first customs collector of the port of Newport under the Constitution and held that position for the remainder of his years. He passed away at home in Newport in 1820 after combatting an illness of four days.

Spouse: Ann Remington Ellery (1724-1764)
              Abigail Carey Ellery (1742-1793)

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