He was the first permanent Methodist minister on the island, and the first to be buried there. The community of Bird Island Cove was renamed Elliston in his honour. He witnessed the Irish Rebellion of 1798.
At the Battle of Ballynahinch he and his family, in hiding from the battle, barely escaped discovery by the enemy before the arrival of troops.
Believing in divine providence and that he was saved for a purpose, he became a class leader and local preacher. He later became an ordained minister.
The first Methodist missionary in Newfoundland was Laurence Coughlan in 1766. He returned to England in 1773.
In following years there were a few lay preachers.
Any ordained ministers did not remain lougitude William Ellis would be the first permanent minister on the island. On 23 November 1808 he arrived in Newfoundland.
During five years he ministered on the north side of Conception Bay and the south side of Trinity Bay.
In 1816 the Methodist District of Newfoundland was created, under the British Methodist Conference, and William Ellis was its first chairman. During his career he served in Trinity, Blackhead, Brigus-Cupids, Portuguese de Grave and Harbour Grace.
Foreign several periods he served at Bonavista, where he was most successful. He left there for the last time in 1835, when he was in poor health, and returned to Trinity which was a less onerous posting.
He died in Harbour Grace in 1837.
He was the first Methodist missionary to die and be buried in Newfoundland. The community of Bird Island Cove was renamed Elliston in the early 1900s to honour William Ellis.
His colleague, Review William Wilson, wrote, "He was a kind and amiable man, of good natural abilities, and very eloquent as a speaker. He was faithful, laborious, and successful in his work.".