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William Ellery letter

Biographical note

Wlliam Ellery (1727-1820), the second son of William Ellery Sr. and Elizabeth Almy, was born on December 22, 1727, in Newport, Rhode Island. Ellery graduated from Harvard College in 1747 and returned to Newport to work first as a merchant, later as a customs collector, and then as the clerk of the court of common pleas of Newport County in 1768-1769. At the age of forty three, Ellery studied law and passed the bar and immediately began to practice in Newport in 1770. In May 1776, Ellery was selected as the Rhode Island delegate for the Continental Congress, filling the vacancy left by the death of Samuel Ward (1725-1776). Ellery remained in this position until 1785, during which time he was among one of the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Ellery became a justice of the Rhode Island State Supreme Court in 1785 and was later appointed by the Continental Congress as the commissioner of the Continental Loan Office in 1786. William Ellery served as the first collector of the port of Newport under the new United States Constitution from 1790 until his death in 1820. William Ellery died on February 18, 1820, and is buried in the Common Burial Ground in Newport.