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Abigail Carey Ellery

1742-1793

Wife of William Ellery

William Ellery married Abigail, daughter of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Wanton Carey (or Cary), in 1767, three years after the death of his first wife. She was his second cousin and twenty-five years old at the time of their marriage., Mr. Ellery had prospered greatly in the practice of his profession and was ac-counted wealthy. He also stood high in the estimation of his townsmen and was keenly alive to their interests. From the beginning of the agitation against the encroachments of the British ministry, he had been outspoken in favor of the rights of the people. He was made to suffer greatly for this. His house was burned and his property greatly damaged at an early stage of the struggle but he did not give up his seat in Congress and return home as he would have been justified in doing; he left his own business affairs to get along as best they might while he continued service as one of the most indefatigable workers in Congress.

After the war, his own state made him Chief Justice, and after the adoption of the Constitution and the election of Washington to the Presidency he was made collector of customs at Newport; the competence he derived from these offices proved sufficient to make his declining years easy and comfortable.

Eight children were born to William Ellery and his second wife, but only two of them lived to grow to maturity. One of these was George Wanton Ellery, born in 1789, and for many years collector of the port of Newport. He married Mary, daughter of Thomas Goddard, and they lived in the old home of the signer. The other child was a daughter, Mehitable Redwood, who was born in 1784 and who mar-ried William Anthony.

Abigail Ellery died in 1793 and was survived by her husband many years, he dying in 1820 in the ninety-third year of his age.

Source: Wives of the Signers: The Women Behind the Declaration of Independence, by Harry Clinton Green and Mary Wolcott Green, A.B. (Aledo, TX: Wallbuilder Press, 1997). Orignaly Published in 1912 as volume 3 of The Pioneer Mothers of America: A Record of the More Notable Women of the Early Days of the Country, and Particularly of the Colonial and Revolutionary Periods (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons). Pages 91-92. (Some minor spelling changes may have been made.)

 
 

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Last modified January 5, 2004