William Ellery account and letter book  1751-1773
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The William Ellery account and letter book contains financial records and correspondence by the signer of the Declaration of Independence, from his time as a merchant and lawyer in Newport, Rhode Island, between 1751 and 1773. Accounts cover a variety of goods, many originating from naval trade. Though most of the transactions are simple invoices or records of money owed, the book includes a "Wharfage Account" (January 1763-May 11, 1764) and an "Account of Ferryage" (May 9, 1763-March 27, 1764). Occasionally, Ellery mentioned specific vessels taking on or offloading goods, such as the entry entitled "Invoice of Merchandize Ship'd by Barnard's of Harrison on Board the Pitt [,] Pollipus Hammond Commr." (November 20, 1764). He also used this volume as an abbreviated letter book to retain copies of letters on legal and business matters, especially credit and debt. Ellery's most frequent correspondents were William Rodman of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and William Redwood of Philadelphia, for whom he attempted to collect debts.

Three letters accompany the account and letter book:

  • 1779 September 28. Henry Laurens ALS to William Ellery; State House, Philadelphia. 2 pages. Respecting an election for “the Minister for treating with the Court of Great Britain” and the arrival of Count d’Estaing.
  • 1789 June 1. William Ellery ALS to Nathaniel Appleton; Newport, [Rhode Island]. 3 pages. Regarding Rhode Island’s relation to the Union.
  • 1805 January 2. William Ellery ALS to N. G. Duffield; Newport, Rhode Island. 2 pages. Concerning the sale of books ordered from Duffield and the settlement of accounts with him. He also offers his thoughts on learning languages, especially French.
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