Wife of Declaration Signer William Ellery
Abigail Carey was born in Bristol County, Rhode Island, on November 12, 1742, the daughter of Nathaniel and Elizabeth Wanton Carey. William Ellery was born in Newport, Rhode Island, to a wealthy mercantile family on December 22, 1727. His father, of the same name, was graduated at Harvard in 1722, became a successful merchant in Newport, and served successively as judge, senator, and lieutenant governor of the colony. Newport was then a unique community where despite many religious differences, there was a degree of tolerance.
The elder Ellery prepared young William for college, and he entered Harvard in 1743. He was not enthused about becoming a merchant like his father, and entertained thoughts of being a lawyer. Ellery graduated in the Harvard class of 1747, and returned home to Newport.