|17th United States Attorney General|
July 1, 1843 – March 4, 1845
|Preceded by||Hugh S. Legaré|
|Succeeded by||John Y. Mason|
|United States Chargé d'Affaires to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies|
October 25, 1831 – October 15, 1832
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Succeeded by||Enos T. Throop|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Maryland's 4th district
March 4, 1821 – March 3, 1823
|Preceded by||Samuel Ringgold|
|Succeeded by||John Lee|
|Born||June 1, 1791|
Frederick, Maryland, U.S.
|Died||January 18, 1860 (aged 68)|
Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.
Frances Harriott Burrows
|Relations||Charles Steele (grandson)|
Mary Brooke Sim Nelson
|Alma mater||College of William and Mary|
John Nelson (June 1, 1791 – January 18, 1860) was Attorney General of the United States from 1843 to 1845 under John Tyler.
Nelson was born in Frederick, Maryland on June 1, 1791. He was the fourth child of Roger Nelson and Mary Brooke (née Sim) Nelson (d. 1794). Among his siblings was Madison Nelson, Frederick Stembel Nelson, and Sarah (née Nelson) Maulsby. His father served as Brigadier general during the Revolutionary War (and one of the original members of the Society of Cincinnati) and, later, a U.S. Representative.
He graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1811, and was admitted to the bar in 1813, starting practice in Frederick.
He held several local offices before being elected to the United States House of Representatives representing Maryland's 4th district. He served only one term, March 4, 1821, to March 3, 1823, and was not a candidate for reelection. Nelson received an A.M. degree from Princeton University in 1825.
In 1831, he was appointed Chargé d'affaires to the Two Sicilies, a position he served in from 1831 to 1832.
President John Tyler appointed him Attorney General of the United States on July 1, 1843, which he served until the end of the Tyler administration. He also served as United States Secretary of State ad interim for about a month in 1844 after the sudden death of the previous Secretary of State Abel P. Upshur.
After the end of the Tyler administration, Nelson retired from public life and returned to Baltimore.
Nelson was married to Frances Harriott Burrows (1798–1836), a daughter of William Ward Burrows I, the second Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the sister of William Ward Burrows II, a decorated officer in the United States Navy. Together, they were the parents of:
After his first wife's death in 1836, he married Matilda Tennant (d. 1862), the daughter of Thomas Tennant, on March 13, 1838. Matilda and John were the parents of two children:
Nelson died in Baltimore, Maryland, on January 8, 1860.
Through his daughter, he was the grandfather of Charles Steele, who was born in Baltimore and later spent 39 years as a partner in J.P. Morgan & Co. in New York City.