The elder was Robert Ellin born about 1838; the younger was John William Kitson born 1845. According to the Kitson family, it was Robert Ellin who first came to the United States and then encouraged William Kitson to follow. Their first known collaboration was a mahogany breakfront entered into a juried show for the United States Bi-Centennial held in Philadelphia in 1876. According to Kitson family history, they wanted to enter their work as Englishmen, thinking it would set them apart for other entries. It is likely that they were both employed in the preparations of the exhibit halls.
The breakfront was very noted and won a prize. It may have been this work which launched their business. Kitson family oral history tells of many trips which William took to South America to personally select the mahogany and other woods for various projects.
Some of the buildings they were involved with are as follows: The Tilden Home NYC, the William Kassim Vanderbilt Home NYC, the Marquand Mansion NYC, Marble House Newport Rhode Island, the Equitable Insurance Building NYC, Grace Church, New York, Trinity Church Astor Redoes NYC, St. Thomas Episcopal Church Manaroneck Long Island.
In addition to various trademen employed by this firm, William's younger brother Samuel James Kitson was often involved, especially when fine sculptures were to be a part of the project.
Columbia University has in their special collections department a style book attributed to Ellin & Kitson.
THE VILLARD HOUSES William C. Shopsin, AIA and Mosette Glaser Broderick 1980 Viking Press pages 47, 64
IN PURSUIT OF BEAUTY Metropolitan Museum of Art - Rizzoli 1986 Pages 110, 120-121, 123, 425, 486 note references pg 425