His father James Birch Sharpe was a notable artist and physician who was later appointed Esquire of Windlesham. He was elected in June 1864 a Fellow of the Royal Society
Ellis developed two phonetic alphabets phonotype which used many new letters and palæotype which replaced many of these with turned letters (such as ⟨ə⟩ ⟨ɔ⟩) small caps (such as ⟨ɪ⟩) and italics.
Alexander John Ellis FRS (14 June 1814 - 28 October 1890) was an English mathematician and philologist. He is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery London. He changed his name from his father's name Sharpe to his mother's maiden name Ellis in 1825 based on a condition for receiving significant financial support from a relative on his mother's side.