William Henry Ellis

"One of the most consummate villains that ever existed"

William Henry Ellis was born and baptised in Sandford, Devon in 1788. His parents were Josias and Mary and he had a younger sister Elizabeth (Betty). William and Elizabeth Ellis were two of the children presented bibles at the East Village school in  in 1798. (East Village, where they probably lived, although part of Sandford Parish, was closer to Stockleigh English to the North.)

In May 1825 Elizabeth Ellis died aged 35 in Twickenham, Middlesex, but was buried at Stockleigh English. In August that year her father Josias died aged 69. He too was buried at Stockleigh English.

On Tuesday 6 Sep 1825, a few days after his father's funeral, William Ellis was arrested at his employer's shop at 182 Fore St, Exeter. Some details appeared in the Exeter Flying Post two days later:

A greater sensation was excited in this City, yesterday, than we recollect for many years, by the discovery of an embezzlement of cash and notes to an unheard of extent by Wm Henry Ellis, a confidential shopman and clerk in the employ of the very respectable house of Newman & Co. grocers. – He underwent last evening a long, private examination before the Magistrate, and was remanded, with orders to be brought up again at 10 o’clock this morning, ...when he was fully committed for trial. - The plunder by this man seems to have been systematic, and carried on for years, during which he has accumulated, in boxes, cash and notes to the amount of nearly Six Thousand Pounds, which was seized at his lodgings... The prisoner conducted himself with great effrontery during the examination and while being taken to prison coolly made some remarks on the weather; he is short in stature, and has rather a feminine appearance.


Newman & Co

Ellis had been employed by John Newman from about 1811, initially to teach his children to write. He later worked in Newman's shop where he gradually took on more responsibility.

(Since about 1600 the Newman family, from Dartmouth, where John was born, had been involved with trade between there,  Newfoundland and Portugal. Cod from Newfoundland was traded with wine and port from Portugal.)


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