Powhatan Ellis

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Powhatan Ellis
Powhatan Ellis.jpg
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Mississippi
In office
July 14, 1832 – January 5, 1836
Appointed byAndrew Jackson
Preceded byPeter Randolph
Succeeded byGeorge Adams
United States Senator
from Mississippi
In office
September 28, 1825 – January 28, 1826
Preceded byDavid Holmes
Succeeded byThomas B. Reed
In office
March 4, 1827 – July 16, 1832
Preceded byThomas B. Reed
Succeeded byJohn Black
Personal details
Born(1790-01-17)January 17, 1790
Amherst County, Virginia
DiedMarch 18, 1863(1863-03-18) (aged 73)
Richmond, Virginia
Political partyJacksonian

Powhatan Ellis (January 17, 1790 – March 18, 1863) was a United States Senator from Mississippi and a United States federal judge.

Early life[edit]

Powhatan Ellis was born on January 17, 1790, at "Red Hill" in Amherst County, Virginia. Some accounts deemed him to be a descendant of Pocahontas.[1] He graduated from Washington Academy (now Washington and Lee University) in 1809, attended Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1809 and 1810, receiving an A.B., and studied law at the College of William & Mary in 1813 and 1814. He was a lieutenant in the Prevost Guards of Virginia in 1814.


He was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Lynchburg, Virginia; he moved to Natchez, Mississippi in 1816, and to Winchester, Mississippi later that year, continuing the practice of law in both places.

He served as a judge of the Mississippi Supreme Court at several time between 1817 and 1825. He was appointed to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of David Holmes,[1] and served from September 28, 1825, to January 28, 1826, when a successor was elected and qualified; he was an unsuccessful candidate for election to fill the vacancy. He was elected to the Senate and served from March 4, 1827, to July 16, 1832, when he resigned to accept a judicial position.

On July 13, 1832, President Andrew Jackson nominated him to a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Mississippi vacated by Peter Randolph. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 14, 1832, and received his commission the same day. In 1833 he married Eliza Rebecca Winn [she died Spring 1835][2] He resigned on Jan 5, 1836.

He was appointed by President Andrew Jackson as Chargé d'affaires of the United States to Mexico. He served in that capacity from January to December 1836, when he closed the legation. He was appointed by President Martin Van Buren as United States Minister Plenipotentiary to Mexico,[1] holding that office from 1839 to 1842.

He then engaged in the private practice of law in Natchez, Mississippi until at some point he moved to Richmond, Virginia. He continued in private practice there until his death in 1863.


He died on March 18, 1863, in Richmond, Virginia.[1] He was buried at Shockoe Hill Cemetery.


The city of Ellisville, Mississippi is named in his memory.[3][4]


  1. ^ a b c d Thomas H. Somorville, "A Sketch of the Supreme Court of Mississippi", in Horace W. Fuller, ed.,The Green Bag, Vol. XI (1899), p. 504.
  2. ^ [The Southern Literary Messenger: Devoted to Every Department ..., Volumes 35-36 April 1863 p.250]
  3. ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963.
  4. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 117.
U.S. Senate
Preceded by
David Holmes
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Mississippi
Served alongside: Thomas H. Williams
Succeeded by
Thomas B. Reed
Preceded by
Thomas B. Reed
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Mississippi
Served alongside: Thomas H. Williams, Thomas B. Reed, Robert H. Adams, George Poindexter
Succeeded by
John Black
Legal offices
Preceded by
Peter Randolph
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Mississippi
Succeeded by
George Adams