Earldom of Nelson
Arms of the Earl Nelson


Arms: Or, a cross flory sable surmounted by a bend gules thereon another bend engrailed of the field charged with three hand-grenades of the second fired proper a chief of augmentation wavy argent thereon waves of the sea from which issuant in the centre a palm tree between a disabled ship on the dexter and a battery in ruins on the sinister all proper.[1]
Crests: 1st: On a naval crown or the Chelenk or Diamond Plume of Triumph, presented to Admiral Horatio, Viscount Nelson by the Grand Signor, Sultan Selim III. 2nd: Upon Waves of the sea the stern of a Spanish man-of-war, all proper, thereon inscribed SAN JOSEF.
Supporters: Dexter: A sailor habited and armed with a cutlass, with a pair of pistols in his belt proper, his right hand supporting a pike proper, thereon hoisted a commodore’s flag gules, and his left holding a palm branch proper. Sinister: A lion reguardant, in his mouth two broken flagstaffs proper, flowing from the one the Spanish flag or and gules and from the other a French flag gules argent and azure in his dexter paw a palm branch proper.

Creation date20 November 1805
Created byKing George III
PeeragePeerage of the United Kingdom
First holderWilliam Nelson, 2nd Baron Nelson
Present holderSimon Nelson, 10th Earl Nelson
Heir apparentThomas Nelson, Viscount Merton
Remainder toSpecial remainder (see main text)
Subsidiary titlesViscount Merton
Baron Nelson
Former seat(s)Trafalgar House
MottoOver the 2nd crest: FAITH AND WORKS
Below the shield: PALMAM QUI MERUIT FERAT (Let him bear the palm who has deserved it)
Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson "of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe" (1801), 1st Baron Nelson "of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe" (1798), 1st Baron Nelson "of the Nile and of Hillborough" (1801, with special remainder), 1st Duke of Bronte (1799, Peerage of the Kingdom of Sicily and Naples)

Earl Nelson, of Trafalgar and of Merton in the County of Surrey, is a title in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. It was created on 20 November 1805 for the Rev. William Nelson, 2nd Baron Nelson, one month after the death of his younger brother Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, the famous naval hero of the Napoleonic Wars and victor of the Battle of Trafalgar of 21 October 1805 (during which he was killed in action). The title is extant, the present holder being Simon Nelson, 10th Earl Nelson, who has an heir apparent. The family seat of Trafalgar House in Wiltshire (also known as Standlynch Park) was sold in 1948 by Edward Nelson, 5th Earl Nelson.


The title was created on 20 November 1805 for the Reverend William Nelson, 2nd Baron Nelson, who was a son of the Reverend Edmund Nelson (1722–1802) and an elder brother of Horatio Nelson. The Nelson family had been settled in Norfolk for many generations, and the Reverend Edmund Nelson was Rector of Hillborough and of Burnham Thorpe in that county. He married Catherine Suckling, whose maternal grandmother Mary was the sister of both The 1st Earl of Orford and The 1st Baron Walpole of Wolterton. Their fifth but third-surviving son was the renowned naval commander Horatio Nelson.

After defeating the French at the Battle of the Nile in 1798, Horatio Nelson was raised to the Peerage of Great Britain on 6 November 1798 as Baron Nelson, of the Nile, and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk, with normal remainder to the heirs male of his body.[2] In 1799, he was created Duke of Bronte (Italian: Duca di Bronte), of the Kingdom of Sicily, by King Ferdinand III of Sicily, which title he was given royal sanction to use in Britain.

After defeating the Danish fleet at the Battle of Copenhagen in April 1801, Nelson was further honoured when he was made Viscount Nelson, of the Nile, and of Burnham Thorpe in the County of Norfolk, with normal remainder to the heirs male of his body, on 22 May 1801.[3] On 18 August of the same year, he was created Baron Nelson, of the Nile, and of Hillborough in the County of Norfolk, with remainder, in default of male issue of his own, to his father and the heirs male of his body, and failing them to the heirs male of the body severally and successively of his sisters Susannah Bolton and Catherine Matcham.[4] Both titles were in the Peerage of the United Kingdom.

Nelson was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. Since he had no legitimate children, the barony of 1798 and the viscountcy became extinct upon his death.

He was succeeded in the barony of 1801 according to the special remainder (and also in the dukedom of Bronte) by his elder brother the Reverend William Nelson, who became the second Baron. On 20 November 1805, the second Baron was created Viscount Merton, of Trafalgar and of Merton in the County of Surrey, and Earl Nelson, of Trafalgar and of Merton in the County of Surrey, in honour of his late brother and with similar remainder to the barony of 1801.[5] Both titles are in the Peerage of the United Kingdom. The first Earl died without surviving male issue and was succeeded in the dukedom of Bronte by his daughter Charlotte, wife of The 2nd Baron Bridport.

The first Earl was succeeded in the British titles (according to the special remainders) by his nephew Thomas Bolton, the second Earl. He was the eldest son of the aforementioned Susannah Bolton, a sister of the first Earl and the wife of Thomas Bolton of Wells in Norfolk. The second Earl assumed the surname of Nelson upon succeeding to the peerages. He only held the titles for eight months and on his early death, the titles passed to his eldest son, the third Earl. He was succeeded by his third but eldest surviving son, the fourth Earl. He never married and on his death in 1947, the titles passed to his eighty-seven-year-old younger brother, the fifth Earl. He was succeeded by his eldest son, the sixth Earl, who was a lecturer in astronomy and anthropology. Two of his younger brothers, the seventh and eighth Earls, both succeeded in the titles.

As of 2017, the peerages are held by Simon John Horatio Nelson, 10th Earl Nelson (born 1971), a great-grandson of the fifth Earl. He succeeded in 2009 and is the eldest son of Peter John Horatio Nelson, the ninth Earl.

Two other members of the family also had distinguished naval careers. The Hon. Maurice Horatio Nelson (1832–1914), third son of the second Earl, was a rear-admiral in the Royal Navy. His eldest son, Maurice Henry Horatio Nelson (1864–1942), was a captain in the Royal Navy.

Coat of arms

Contemporary drawing of the heraldic achievement of Horatio Nelson before Trafalgar[6]
Arms of William Nelson, 1st Earl Nelson, displaying the additional augmentation that he was granted

Arms were granted to Admiral Horatio Nelson and confirmed on 20 October 1797. Nelson's paternal arms (Or, a cross flory sable over all a bendlet gules) were augmented to honour his naval victories. After the Battle of Cape St Vincent (14 February 1797), Nelson was created a Knight of the Bath and was granted heraldic supporters (appropriate for peers) of a sailor and a lion.[7]

In honour of the Battle of the Nile in 1798, the Crown granted him an augmentation of honour blazoned On a chief wavy argent a palm tree between a disabled ship and a ruinous battery all issuant from waves of the sea all proper, the Latin motto Palmam qui meruit ferat ("let him who has earned it bear the palm"), and added to his supporters a palm branch in the hand of the sailor and in the paw of the lion, and a "tri-colored flag and staff in the mouth of the latter".[8]

After Nelson's death, his elder brother and heir William Nelson, 1st Earl Nelson, was granted a further augmentation: On a fess wavy overall azure the word TRAFALGAR or.[9] This additional augmentation was not used by those who succeeded him in the earldom, including the present Earl Nelson.[1]

Baron Nelson, First creation (1798)

Viscount Nelson (1801)

Baron Nelson, Second creation (1801)

Earls Nelson (1805)

The heir apparent is the present holder's only son, Thomas John Horatio Nelson, Viscount Merton (b. 2010).

Family tree

Line of succession

Line of succession
  • Rev. Edmund Nelson (1722–1802)
    • Susannah Nelson (1755–1813)
      • Thomas Nelson, 2nd Earl Nelson (1786–1835)
        • Horatio Nelson, 3rd Earl Nelson (1823–1913)
          • Edward Nelson, 5th Earl Nelson (1860–1951)
            • Hon. John Marie Joseph Horatio Nelson (1908–1970)
              • Peter Nelson, 9th Earl Nelson (1941–2009)
                • Simon Nelson, 10th Earl Nelson (born 1971)
                  • (1). Thomas John Horatio Nelson, Viscount Merton (b. 2010)
                • (2). Hon. Edward James Horatio Nelson (b. 1994)
              • (3). Francis Edward Horatio Nelson (b. 1947)
                • (4). William John Horatio Nelson (b. 1975)
        • Hon. Maurice Horatio Nelson (1832–1914)
          • Charles Burrard Nelson (1868–1931)
            • John Charles Horatio Nelson (1905–1994)
              • Anthony Burrard Horatio Nelson (1935-2019)
                • (5). Thomas Antony Horatio Nelson (b. 1963)
                • (6). Edward Maximilian Nelson (b. 1971)
                  • (7). Alfred John Horatio Nelson (b. 2005)
    • William Nelson, 1st Earl Nelson (1757–1835)
    • Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson (1758–1805)


See also


This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.Find sources: "Earl Nelson" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (February 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
  1. ^ a b Montague-Smith, P.W. (ed.), Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Companionage, Kelly's Directories Ltd, Kingston-upon-Thames, 1968, p. 822 (Earl Nelson).
  2. ^ "No. 15067". The London Gazette. 6 October 1798. p. 931.
  3. ^ "No. 15366". The London Gazette. 19 May 1801. p. 549.
  4. ^ "No. 15393". The London Gazette. 1 August 1801. p. 948.
  5. ^ "No. 15859". The London Gazette. 5 November 1805. p. 1376.
  6. ^ The Heraldry Society (2 April 2015). "Horatio Viscount Nelson". The Heraldry Society. Retrieved 2 April 2015.
  7. ^ Adkin 2007, p. 550
  8. ^ Harrison, James (2007) [1806]. The Life of the Right Honourable Horatio Lord Viscount Nelson. Vol. 1. BiblioBazaar, LLC. p. 266. ISBN 978-1-4346-0663-1.
  9. ^ Foster, Joseph (1882). The Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, of the British Empire for 1882; with the Orders of Knighthood. Westminster: Nichols and Sons. p. 494.
  10. ^ Born as Thomas Bolton, then changed his surname to Nelson upon inheriting the earldom.
  11. ^ Morris, Susan; Bosberry-Scott, Wendy; Belfield, Gervase, eds. (2019). "Nelson, Earl". Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage. Vol. 1 (150th ed.). London: Debrett's Ltd. pp. 3783–3786. ISBN 978-1-999767-0-5-1.