Oliver Ellsworth

Oliver Ellsworth (1745 - 1807)

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Oliver Ellsworth
Born in Windsor, Connecticutmap
[sibling(s) unknown]
Husband of — married [location unknown]
Died in Windsor, Connecticut, United Statesmap
Profile last modified | Created 9 Dec 2014
This page has been accessed 1,409 times.

Categories: Windsor, Connecticut | Palisado Cemetery, Windsor, Connecticut | Notables | American Founding Fathers | Chief Justices of the United States | US Senators from Connecticut.

Oliver Ellsworth is notable.
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Oliver Ellsworth was a Founding Father in the American Revolution
Preceded by
2nd Chief Justice
John Rutledge

Preceded by
US Constitution Ratified
March 4, 1789
Oliver Ellsworth
3rd Chief Justice
of the United States
Seal of the US Supreme Court

US Senator (Class 1)
from Connecticut
Seal of of the US Senate
Succeeded by
4th Chief Justice
John Marshall

Succeeded by
James Hillhouse



Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth, born 29 April 1745, was the son of Capt. David Ellsworth and Jemima Leavitt. He and Abigail Wolcott, b. 8 Feb 1755, were married on 10 Dec 1772.

Oliver began studying theology at Yale University but left after two years. He finished his studies in 1766, after transferring to law, at the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University.

In 1787 Oliver was part of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia and played a role in drafting the document. It was Oliver Ellsworth who proposed using the name "United States" to refer to the government in the document. There was some debate to instead officially use the phrase "national government". Ellsworth's proposal was chosen to designate the government and has been in use ever since.

In 1789 he became a Senator and was appointed chairman of the committee tasked with organizing the judiciary. He was nominated to the Supreme Court by President George Washington on 3 Mar 1796, took his seat 8 Mar 1796, and resigned 16 Oct 1800.

Ellsworth was a presidential candidate in 1796, where he was defeated by John Adams. He lead a delegation to France to negotiate with Napoléon Bonaparte in 1799, 1800.

Oliver Ellsworth died 26 Nov 1807. His widow, Abigail (Wolcott) Ellsworth died 4 Aug 1818.

List of Appointments

1773-1776: member, State general assembly
1777: appointed State attorney
1778-1783: member of the Continental Congress
1780-1785: member of the Governor's council
1785-1789: judge of the Connecticut Superior Court
1787: delegate to the convention that framed the federal Constitution
1789-1796: U.S. Senator
1796-1800: Chief Justice U.S. Supreme Court
1799: appointed Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to France
1801-1807: again a member of the Governor's council 1801-1807


Oliver married Abigail Wolcott, daughter of William Wolcott and Abigail Abbott on 10 Dec 1772. A story is told among descendants that when Ellsworth made his first visit to the Wolcott house he called upon the elder sister, "but that the black eyes of Abigail, who sat demurely carding tow in the chimney corner, made him change his mind, and the next time he went there he called for her... [Tradition has it] that she was a beauty, and one or two anecdotes present her to posterity as an uncommonly loving and lovable woman. Unrelaxing in industry, she was given to charity, and had an unfailing kindness for all about her. That a briefless young lawyer should win, apparently without objection from her family, the daughter of so respectable a house, is evidence of the wholesome democracy in which they lived. It is evidence, too, of the sincerity of their affection for each other."[2]

Oliver and Abigail had the following children:

Nabby b. 16 Aug 1774
Oliver b. 22 Oct 1776, died aged 2
Oliver b. 27 Apr 1781
Martin b. 17 Apr 1783
Billy b. 21 Jun 1785, died same year
Fanny b. 31 Aug 1786
Delia b. 23 Jan 1789
William Wolcott and Henry (twins) b. 10 Nov 1791


Cemetery:Palisado Cemetery
Place: Windsor, Hartford County, Connecticut, USA.[3]

Inscription on Headstone

In the memory of
An assistant in the Council and
a Judge of the Superior Court
of the State of Connecticut. A
member of the Convention which
formed and of the State Convention
of Connecticut which adopted
the Constitution of the United State
Senator and Chief Justice
of the United States,
one of the Envoys Extraordinary
and Ministers Plenipotentiary
who made the convention of 1800
between the United States
and the French Republic.


  1. Resigned to become Chief Justice of the United States., vacant March 8, 1796 – December 6, 1796 when successor elected.
  2. Brown, William Garrott. "The Life of Oliver Ellsworth." (New York: Macmillan Co, 1905), p.24.
  3. FindAGrave: Oliver Ellsworth

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No known carriers of Oliver's Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA have taken yDNA or mtDNA tests.

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Images: 4
Oliver Ellsworth Image 1
Oliver Ellsworth Image 1

Oliver Ellsworth Signature, courtesy Wikipedia
Oliver Ellsworth Signature, courtesy Wikipedia

Colonial Collegians, Oliver Ellsworth
Colonial Collegians, Oliver Ellsworth

Oliver and Abigail Ellsworth
Oliver and Abigail Ellsworth


Oliver is 18 degrees from Robin Helstrom, 22 degrees from Katy Jurado and 17 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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