Dr. Ellis was born in Boston in 1814. He graduated at Harvard in the class of 1833, and at the Divinity School in 1836, and after two years travel in Europe was ordained as pastor of the Harvard Unitarian Church, Charlestown, Mass. In 1850 he became a member of the Board of Overseers of Harvard on which he served for four years. Harvard presented him with the degree of D.D, in 1857, and in 1883 that of LL.D. From 1857 until 1863 he was professor of systematic theology in the Harvard Divinity School.
Dr. Ellis was the author of many historical and biographical essays of early New England, and also of many widely known religious works.