William Wolcott Ellsworth

November 10, 1791
January 15, 1868
Home Town:
Windsor, CT
Emily Webster Ellsworth (September 14, 1813)
Biographical Notes:
William Wolcott Ellsworth was the son of Chief Justice Oliver and Abigail (Wolcott) Ellsworth. He was also the twin brother of Henry Leavitt Ellsworth who also attended the Litchfield Law School in 1811. He was prepared for college by Nathan Johnson. After attending the Law School, Ellsworth continued his legal studies in Hartford, CT at the office of his brother-in-law Chief Justice Williams. He was admitted to the bar in 1813 and married Emily Webster, the daughter of dictionary author Noah Webster, that same year. In 1817, he entered legal practice with his brother-in-law Judge Williams. However, in 1827 Ellsworth was elected the first Law Professor at Trinity College and he held that position until 1862. He was also elected to the U.S. Congress and served as a member of the Judiciary Committee. ...

Years at LLS:
Other Education:
Graduated from Yale College in 1810.

Profession / Service
Lawyer; Educator; Political Office
Admitted To Bar:
1813 in Litchfield County Court
Training with Other Lawyers:
After studying at the Litchfield Law School he studied in the office of Thomas Scott Williams in Hartford, CT.
Political Party:
Federal Posts:
U.S. Representative (CT) 1829-1834
Federal Committees:
Member of the Judiciary Committee, and served on the committee to Investiage the U.S. Bank in Philadelphia.
State Posts:
Governor (CT) 1838-1842
Judge of the Supreme Court (CT) 1848-1861

Related Objects and Documents
In the Ledger:
help The Citation of Attendance provides primary source documentation of the student’s attendance at the Litchfield Female Academy and/or the Litchfield Law School. If a citation is absent, the student is thought to have attended but currently lacks primary source confirmation.

Records for the schools were sporadic, especially in the formative years of both institutions. If instructors kept comprehensive records for the Litchfield Female Academy or the Litchfield Law School, they do not survive. Researchers and staff have identified students through letters, diaries, family histories and genealogies, and town histories as well as catalogues of students printed in various years. Art and needlework have provided further identification of Female Academy Students, and Litchfield County Bar records document a number of Law School students. The history of both schools and the identification of the students who attended them owe credit to the early 20th century research and documentation efforts of Emily Noyes Vanderpoel and Samuel Fisher, and the late 20th century research and documentation efforts of Lynne Templeton Brickley and the Litchfield Historical Society staff.
Ledger. "Journals of the Barr - Litchfield County." Litchfield Historical Society.; Bond, William Key. "Lectures on law by the Honable. Tapping Reeve and James Gould esquire at Litchfield, Connecticut, An. Dom: 1811 & 1812 …" Rare Book Collection, Lillian

Litchfield County Bar Association Records, 1810, Litchfield Historical Society, Helga J. Ingraham Memorial Library.
Secondary Sources:
Dexter, Franklin Bowditch. Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College with Annals of College History, Vol. 6. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1912. ; Lewis, Hon. Dwight and J. Gilbert Calhoun. Judicial and Civil History of Connecticut. Boston, MA: The Boston History Company, Publishers, 1895.; Hooker, John. Connecticut Reports, Vol. 34. Hartford, CT: Press of Case, Lockwood and Brainard, 1869.

Contact Us

Do you have more information for the Ledger?

If you have family papers, objects, or any other details you would like to share, or if you would like to obtain a copy of an image for publication, please contact us at curator@litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org.