William Nelson, 1st Earl Nelson

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William Nelson, 1st Earl Nelson c. 1820 in a sketch by Sir George Hayter
Arms of William Nelson, 1st Earl Nelson, 2nd Duke of Bronté, being the augmented arms of his younger brother Admiral Horatio Nelson further augmented with a fess wavy azure thereon inscribed the word "Trafalgar" or. Today quartered by Hood, Viscount Bridport, descendants of the 1st Earl's daughter the 3rd Duchess of Bronté[1]

William Nelson, 1st Earl Nelson, 2nd Duke of Bronté (20 April 1757 – 28 February 1835), was an Anglican clergyman and an older brother of Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson.

Life and family[edit]

Born in Burnham Thorpe, he was a son of the Reverend Edmund Nelson (1722–1802), and the Nelson family had been settled in Norfolk for many generations. The Reverend Edmund Nelson was Rector of Hillborough and of Burnham Thorpe in that county and married Catherine Suckling, whose maternal grandmother Mary was the sister of Robert Walpole and of Horatio Walpole, 1st Baron Walpole of Wolterton. Their fifth but third-surviving son was the renowned naval commander Horatio Nelson.

William married first Sarah Yonge on 9 November 1786. A daughter, Charlotte, was born in 1787 and a son, Horatio, the following year. After Sarah's death on 13 April 1828, at the age of 71, Nelson married the much younger Hilare Barlow on 26 March 1829.[2]

William Nelson succeeded by a special remainder, which included his father's and sisters' male issue, to one of Horatio Nelson's baronies (Baron Nelson, of the Nile and of Hilborough in the County of Norfolk, created in 1801) upon the latter's death at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805, as well as to the dukedom of Bronté, of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. A month later, on 20 November 1805, in honour of his late brother's achievements, he was created Earl Nelson and Viscount Merton, both of Trafalgar and of Merton in the County of Surrey, again with a special remainder including the male issue of his sisters.[2]

He was reportedly an ambitious man, and used Nelson's mistress Emma Hamilton's generosity and hospitality when it served his purpose, including hosting his son Horace at her home during the Eton school holidays, but cut both her and Horatia Nelson, Emma's daughter by Lord Nelson, off after Nelson's death. He did not respect his brother's wishes to look after Horatia.[3]

He moved to Trafalgar Park after Standlynch Park was renamed thus by an Act of Parliament in 1814.

He died without surviving male issue, Horatio (recently made Viscount Trafalgar) having died at the age of 19 of tuberculosis in 1808,[3] and all of his British titles passed to Thomas Bolton, the son of his sister Susannah. The Sicilian dukedom of Bronté passed to his daughter Charlotte, wife of Samuel Hood, 2nd Baron Bridport.


  • Lee, Sidney, ed. (1894). "Nelson, William (1757-1835)" . Dictionary of National Biography. 40. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  1. ^ Montague-Smith, P.W. (ed.), Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Companionage, Kelly's Directories Ltd, Kingston-upon-Thames, 1968, p.174, Viscount Bridport
  2. ^ a b "Reverend William Nelson, 1st Earl Nelson of Trafalgar and of Merton". thepeerage.com. Retrieved 8 May 2018.
  3. ^ a b Williams, Kate (2009). England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton (Large Print ed.). BBC Audiobooks Ltd by arr. with Random House. ISBN 9781408430781.

External links[edit]

Peerage of the United Kingdom
New title Earl Nelson
Succeeded by
Thomas Nelson
Viscount Merton
Preceded by
Horatio Nelson
Baron Nelson
Titles of nobility
Preceded by
Horatio Nelson
Duke of Bronté
(of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies)

Succeeded by
Charlotte Hood