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William Nelson
WILLIAM NELSON (1711-1772).jpg
portrait by Robert Feke
Colonial Governor of Virginia
In office
Preceded byNorborne Berkeley, baron de Botetourt
Succeeded byJohn Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore
Personal details
Yorktown, Virginia
DiedNovember 19, 1772
Yorktown, Virginia
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Burwell
ChildrenThomas Nelson Jr. and Edward Nelson
Parent(s)Thomas "Scotch Tom" Nelson

William Nelson (1711 – November 19, 1772) was an American planter, politician, and colonial leader from Yorktown, Virginia. In the interim between the royal governors Norborne Berkeley and Lord Dunmore, he served as governor of colonial Virginia in 1770 and 1771.[1]

Nelson was the son of Thomas "Scotch Tom" Nelson, the immigrant ancestor from Cumbria, who built Nelson House at his plantation in about 1730.[2]

In the years leading up to the American Revolution, Nelson was an active supporter of the Patriot cause. Among his children was his son, Thomas Nelson Jr., who was active in revolutionary politics, one of thirteen representatives who drafted the Articles of Confederation, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and a future governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the new United States of America.


  1. ^ Van Horne, John C., ed. (1975). The Correspondence of William Nelson as Acting Governor of Virginia, 1770-1771. Charlottesville: Published for the Virginia Historical Society [by] the University Press of Virginia. ISBN 0813905850.
  2. ^ "Nelson House". National Park Service. August 9, 2015. Retrieved August 27, 2021.