Colonel William Ellzey, or William Ellzey Jr., was born in 1764, the oldest of five children, two sons and three daughters, of William and Alice Ellzey. His father was a prominent attorney working in Prince William, Fairfax and Loudoun counties. He represented George Washington in a lawsuit in 1772.
The Ellzey family initially resided in Prince William County, Virginia, however, the family had moved to Loudoun County by 1774. During his lifetime, William Ellzey, Esq. acquired vast tracts of land in Loudoun County. In 1789, he deeded his son, William Jr., several tracts of land in Loudoun County “in consideration of the natural love and affection for which he hath for his son” with a minimal payment of five shillings. Included in the parcels of land, which he rented to tenants to generate income. When the elder William died in 1795, he left a valuable estate to his wife and children, including additional property to both his sons William and Lewis, as well as rented lands to his three daughters, Lucy, Margaret and Sarah, in order to provide for them financially.
Colonel William Ellzey began a military career early. When he was sixteen he served at the battle of Yorktown in 1781 as an ensign, and he would eventually work his way up to the position of colonel in the county militia. As a young man, Ellzey traveled to the new territories of Ohio and Kentucky, but he eventually settled in Loudoun County on property from his father. He was actively involved in the local community, participating in the Potomac Company’s plans to extend the navigation of the Potomac River in 1785. Throughout his life, he was regularly involved in local roads and ordinances, a member of the Board of Public Works, and justice of the peace for thirty-five to forty years.” On 4 March 1799 he married Francis H. Westwood and they had four children: one son, William Westwood Ellzey, and three daughters. Like his father, Colonel Ellzey continually bought and sold real estate, amassing an even more valuable estate than his father. As his property grew, he participated regularly in local and national politics.
Ellzey died in Leesburg on 30 November 1835 at the age of seventy-one. In his will, written in 1830, he divided his property amongst his four children. He charged his daughter Frances Gray with determining which portion would be allotted and left in trust for his son William, even though he was past the age of majority, because Colonel Ellzey had reservations about how his son would care for the property. Though he died a very wealthy man, his obituary focused on his roles as “kinsman, neighbor, friend, and master” stating that “no man was ever more distinguished for a faithful discharge of his duties.”
By Bridget Swart