1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Channing-Ellery Papers

 Lawyers and public servants, of Newport, R.I.

 Papers, 1694-1841 (bulk 1760-1819)

 Size: 5 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 341

 Processed by: Betty Havrylik, Beth Tabor, Arnold Peterson and Rick Stattler, October 1998

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            The Channing-Ellery Papers consist largely of the papers of William Ellery (1727-1820) and his son-in-law William Channing (1751-1793).

            William Ellery (1727-1820) was a Newport lawyer, merchant, politician and civil servant best known as one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Ellery graduated at Harvard College in 1747, inherited his father's business interests, and began practicing law in 1769. An ardent patriot, Ellery was chosen to fill Samuel Ward's place in the Continental Congress in 1776, where he remained intermittently until 1786. The next four years were spent as Commissioner of the Continental Loan Office, and in 1790 he was appointed Customs Collector at Newport. He remained in this last position until his death thirty years later.

            William Channing was born in Newport in 1751, and graduated from Princeton University in 1769. In 1773, he married Lucy Ellery, daughter of William Ellery. Channing was elected Attorney-General of Rhode Island in 1777, and was chosen as the federal District Attorney upon the adoption of the Constitution in 1790. He died in Newport in 1793, leaving nine children, including famed Unitarian clergyman William Ellery Channing (1780-1842).


Fowler, William M. Jr., William Ellery. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1973.

Rogers, L.E., ed., The Biographical Cyclopedia of Rhode Island. Providence, R.I.: National Biographical Publishing Company, 1881.

Return to top

Scope and content:

            This collection consists largely of records from Ellery and Channing's legal practices, including notes on court cases, evidence presented, receipts for payment and correspondence relating to cases. There are also papers relating to Ellery's second career in customs, and general financial records from both men. The collection contains few personal papers.

            The collection was originally arranged chronologically in eight scrapbooks circa 1903. Thus, much of the original arrangement regarding the case files was lost. Around 1975, the collection was removed from the scrapbooks and placed in archival flat folders, one folder per scrapbook page. Thus, the items are still referred to by volume and page number.

Return to top


Return to top

Processing note:

            The item catalog was done over the course of two years by four different processors. Volunteer Arnold Peterson entered data for volume 1; Simmons College intern Beth Tabor entered volumes 2 through 5; assistant curator Betty Havrylik entered 6 through 8; and curator Rick Stattler collated the data. Contact the Manuscripts Division for more information on the full item listing.

Return to top


Volume 1: 1694-1778 (bulk, 1760-1778)

Volume 2: 1778-1785

Volume 3: 1785-1788

Volume 4: 1788-1791

Volume 5: 1791-1794

Volume 6: 1795-1809

Volume 7: 1810-1819

Volume 8: Undated

Loose volume: Scrapbook kept by William Ellery Channing circa 1841

Return to top


Anderson, Joseph, 1757-1837

Anthony, Joseph

Apthorp, Charles W.

Arnold, Thomas, 1740-1821

Bacon, Ephraim

Barnes, David L., 1760-1812

Benson, George, 1752-1836

Bourne, Benjamin, 1755-1808

Bours, John, 1735-1815

Bowen, Ephraim, 1753-1841

Bowler, Metcalf, 1726-1789

Boylston, John, 1709-1795

Brown, Beriah, 1714-1792

Brown, Henry

Brown, John, 1694-

Brown, Joseph, 1733-1785

Cahoone, John

Caswell, Phillip

Champlin, Christopher, 1707-1766

Champlin, Christopher, 1731-1805

Champlin, Christopher G., 1768-1840

Channing, Walter, 1757-1827

Channing, William, 1751-1793

Channing, William E., 1780-1842

Clark & Nightingale

Comstock, David

Continental Loan Office

Cook, Clarke, c1768-1817

Cook, Francis

Counterfeits and counterfeiting - Rhode Island

Customs administration - Rhode Island - Newport

Daggett, David, 1764-1851

Davis, John, 1761-1847

DeWolf, Samuel, 1779-1800

Edwards, Pierpont, 1750-1826

Ellery, Benjamin, c1725-1797

Ellery, Christopher, c1736-1789

Ellery, Edmund, c1764-1847

Ellery, Nathaniel

Ellery, William, 1727-1820

Enterprise (brig)

Fenner, Arthur, 1745-1805

Fenner, James, 1771-1846

Fitch, Samuel, 1724-1799

Foster, Theodore, 1752-1828

Freebody, John, c1741-1800

Freebody, Samuel, c1719-1801

Freebody, Thomas

Gallatin, Albert A.A., 1761-1849

George (revenue cutter)

Gibbs, George, 1776-1833

Glocester Turnpike

Goddard, William, 1740-1817

Handy, Charles, 1729-1793

Hathaway, Joshua Jr.

Hays & Polock (Newport, R.I.)

Hazard, Jonathan J., c1744-c1824

Hillegas, Michael, 1729-1804

Hoockey, Daniel W.

Howell, David, 1747-1824

Hurricanes - Rhode Island - 1815

Jamestown, R.I. - Buildings, structures, etc.

Knight, Nehemiah R., 1780-1854

Lamb, John, 1735-1800

Lawyers - Rhode Island - Newport

Lewis, Winslow, 1770-1850

Lincoln, Benjamin, 1733-1810

Lighthouses - Rhode Island

Lopez, Aaron, 1731-1782

Lopez, Moses, c1744-1830

Lotteries - Rhode Island

Lowell, John, 1743-1802

Lowell, John, 1769-1840

Lyman, Daniel, 1756-1830

Lyndon, Josias, 1704-1778

Malbone, Francis

Malbone, Godfrey, 1724-1785

Malbone, John, 1735-1795

Marchant, Henry, 1741-1796

Martin, Silvanus, 1749-1818

Merchants - Rhode Island - Newport

Melville, David, 1773-1856

Mumford, Peter

Mumford, Thomas H., c1790-1825

Murder - Rhode Island

New Shoreham, R.I. - Commerce

Newport, R.I. - Commerce

Olney, George

Olney, Jeremiah, 1749-1812

Patty (brig)

Peck, William, 1755-1832

Pitman, John, Jr.

Point Judith Lighthouse (Narragansett, R.I.)

Potter, Elisha R., 1764-1835

Privateering - Rhode Island

Redwood, William, 1734-1784

Reynolds, Joseph

Richardson, Jacob, 1771-1827

Rivera, Jacob R., c1717-1789

Robbins, Asher, 1757-1845

Rodman, William

Rotch, A.L. & Francis

Sands, Ray, c1738-1808

Scollay, John

Sedgwick, Theodore, 1746-1813

Sessions, Darius, c1718-1809

Shaw, Thomas

Shearman, George

Sherman, Eber

Slave-trade - Rhode Island - Newport

South Kingstown, R.I. - Buildings, structures, etc.

Southwick, Solomon, 1773-1839


Tillinghast, Charles

Tillinghast, Daniel

Tillinghast, Henry H.

Tillinghast, Joseph

Tillinghast, Thomas

Topham, John, 1738-1793

United States - Constitution

United States Custom House (Newport, R.I.)

United States - History - Revolution, 1775-1783

United States - History - War of 1812

Updike, Daniel E., c1765-1835

Vigilant (revenue cutter)

Ward, Samuel, 1756-1832

Watch Hill Lighthouse (Westerly, R.I.)

Way, Daniel S.

Westerly, R.I. - Buildings, structures, etc.

Wheatley, Nathaniel

Williams, John

Williamson, Hugh, 1735-1819

End of finding aid - return to top