A highly intelligent and skillful man, Henry Ellis (1721-1806) departed Ireland as a teenager for a life on the sea, where he attracted the attention of the Prince of Wales and the patronage of the Board of Trade, Lord Halifax. Ellis conducted experiments for members of England’s Royal Society. He was also involved in the slave trade from 1750 until 1755.
Henry Ellis replaced the unpopular John Reynolds as Georgia’s second royal governor, and colonists found him fair and competent. Ellis settled the land disputes of Mary Musgrove Bosomworth, which had long caused friction between Georgians and the Creek nation. Ellis also developed lasting friendships with Creek leaders, which helped the colonists in their bitter war with the French and the French-allied Indians.
When poor health forced Ellis to cede the governorship to James Wright, he planned the successful British take-over of Cuba. Ellis eventually retired and died in Italy at the age of eighty-five.
Adapted from the New Georgia Encyclopedia article on Henry Ellis
W. W. Abbot, The Royal Governors of Georgia, 1754-1775 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1959).
Edward J. Cashin, Governor Henry Ellis and the Transformation of British North America (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994).
Kenneth Coleman, Colonial Georgia: A History (New York: Scribner, 1976).
Harold E. Davis, The Fledgling Province: Social and Cultural Life in Colonial Georgia, 1733-1776 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1976).
Tom Waller, “Henry Ellis, Enlightenment Gentleman,” Georgia Historical Quarterly 63 (fall 1979): 364-76.
From the GHS Collection:
Main Collection: Governor Henry Ellis and the transformation of British North America Edward J. Cashin, F289.E45 C37 1994
Manuscript: Henry Ellis instructions, 1759, MS 77; Henry Ellis papers, 1757-1760, MS 942
Rare: An act for the better settling the province of Georgia : passed the 19th of July, 1757, KFG30 1755 .A32