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Nelson, William (1711–19 November 1772), merchant, planter, and public official, was born in Yorktown, Virginia, the son of Thomas Nelson, a merchant, and Margaret Reade. His father sent him to England for his education in 1722. Part of his time in England was spent in Penrith, Cumberland, but the details of his education are not known. Clearly the stay was a long one; the first indication that he was back in Virginia was in 1732 when he was appointed to the York County Court as a justice of the peace. Nelson then entered the family mercantile firm, a flourishing business that included periodic involvement in the slave trade. By this time he was being described as “a young Gentleman of merit and fortune.” In 1738 he married Elizabeth Carter Burwell from an old and distinguished Virginia family; they had six sons. (The eldest son, ...