Gen. Thomas Nelson, Jr., signer of the "Declaration of Independence"

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Thomas Nelson, Jr.

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Yorktown, York, Virginia
Death: Died in Mt. Airy, Hanover, Virginia, United States
Place of Burial: Grace Episcopal Churchyard , Yorktown, York, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Gov William Nelson and Elizabeth Burwell Nelson
Husband of Lucy Nelson
Father of William Nelson; Thomas Nelson, Jr; Philip Nelson; Francis Nelson; Judge Hugh Nelson and 7 others
Brother of Dr Nathaniel Nelson; Keranhappuch Nelson; Col Hugh Nelson; Robert Nelson; Hon William Nelson, Jr and 1 other

Occupation: Merchant-Planter; Major General; Gov. of Virginia
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Thomas Nelson, Jr.

Thomas Nelson, Jr. (December 26 , 1738–January 4 , 1789 ), was an American planter, soldier, and statesman from Yorktown, Virginia. He represented Virginia in the Continental Congress and was its Governor in 1781. He is regarded as one of the U.S. Founding Fathers since he signed the Declaration of Independence as a member of the Virginia delegation.

Thomas Nelson was born at Yorktown Virginia on 28 December 1738 and died on 4 January 1789 at his son's home in Hanover County, Virginia. He is buried in the old churchyard (Grace Church) of Yorktown.

Parents: son of William Nelson (1711 - 1772) [President of the Council and acting Governor of Virginia], of Yorktown, Virginia and Elizabeth Burwell (1718 - ____)

Married:

  1. 1762, Lucy Grymes (1743 - 1830) dau. of Philip Grymes, Esquire, of Brandon, Virginia, and Mary Grimes, and had issue, 11 children. (13 children?)

Children include:

  1. Thomas Nelson (1764 - 1804)
  2. Francis Nelson (1767 - 1833)
  3. Hugh Nelson (1768-1836)
  4. Elizabeth Nelson Page (1770 - 1853)
  5. Mary Nelson Carter (1774 - 1803)
  6. Robert Nelson (1778 - 1818)
  7. Susannah Nelson Page (1780 - 1819)

Events

  • A merchant.
  • On H.M. Council of Virginia, 1764; and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Although an ardent Revolutionist, keenly opposed the Virginia Act of sequestration of British property, 1777, being said to have declared that he 'would pay his debts like an honest man.' Commander-in-Chief in the Virginia Commonwealth, and marched to Philadelphia, 1778.
  • On account of illness retired to Virginia, to serve as financier, Governor, and Commander of the Militia.
  • Elected Governor, 1781.
  • Joined Washington as Major-General of the Virginia forces in the siege of Yorktown, 1781, but resigned through ill-health.
  • Financially ruined, he moved to a small estate (Offley, Hanover County), where he stayed for the remainder of his life.

sacrificed his business ...

In 1774, after hearing about the Boston Tea Party, he performed an act against the British Tea Tax by boarding a merchant ship, Virginia, which was anchored near his home, and dumped several chests of tea into the York River. In an age when destroying another person's property was a serious crime, this was a very risky act, yet he was not punished for doing this.

sacrificed his health ...

He served as a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1775 to 1777, and again in 1779. He was one of the first congressmen to favor independence, and urged his fellow delegates to support the cause of independence. The following spring, in May 1777, he suffered the first of many strokes. Returning home, he seemed to recover, but would have additional strokes as well as periodic bouts of asthma. Despite these health problems, he kept active in politics, and in 1781, he was elected as Virginia's Governor, succeeding Thomas Jefferson. In addition, he commanded the Virginia Militia with the rank of General.

sacrificed his home ...

In the fall of 1781, General Nelson led 3,000 Virginia Militiamen as part of George Washington's Army besieging Yorktown. When the British took refuge in his home, American artillerymen refused to fire on the house, in respect to General Nelson. Nelson then aimed and fired a cannon at his own home, and ordered the men to fire at his house, destroying it. The British surrendered at Yorktown on October 19, 1781, marking the end of the major fighting in the American Revolution.

this was a man


This tribute was happily and affectionately paid to his memory by Colonel Innes:

"The illustrious General Thomas Nelson is no more!

He paid the last great debt to nature, on Sunday, the fourth of the present month, at his estate in Hanover. He who undertakes barely to recite the exalted virtues which adorned the life of this great and good man, will unavoidably pronounce a panegyric on human nature. As a man, a citizen, a legislator, and a patriot, he exhibited a conduct untarnished and undebased by sordid or selfish interest, and strongly marked with the genuine characteristics of true religion, sound benevolence, and liberal policy.

Entertaining the most ardent love for civil and religious liberty, he was among the first of that glorious band of patriots whose exertions dashed and defeated the machinations of British tyranny, and gave United America freedom and independent empire. At a most important crisis, during the late struggle for American liberty, when this state appeared to be designated as the theatre of action for the contending armies, he was selected by the unanimous suffrage of the legislature to command the virtuous yeomanry of his country; in this honourable employment he remained until the end of the war; as a soldier, he was indefatigably active and coolly intrepid; resolute and undejected in misfortunes, he towered above distress, and struggled with the manifold difficulties to which his situation exposed him, with constancy and courage.

In the memorable year 1781, when the whole force of the southern British army was directed to the immediate subjugation of this state, he was called to the helm of government; this was a juncture which indeed 'tried men's souls.' He did not avail himself of this opportunity to retire in the rear of danger; but on the contrary, took the field at the head of his countrymen; and at the hazard of his life, his fame, and individual fortune, by his decision and magnanimity, he saved not only his country, but all America, from disgrace, if not from total ruin.

Of this truly patriotic and heroic conduct, the renowned commander in chief, with all the gallant officers of the combined armies employed at the siege of York, will bear ample testimony; this part of his conduct even contemporary jealousy, envy, and malignity were forced to approve, and this, more impartial posterity, if it can believe, will almost adore. If, after contemplating the splendid and heroic parts of his character, we shall inquire for the milder virtues of humanity, and seek for the man, we shall find the refined, beneficent, and social qualities of private life, through all its forms and combinations, so happily modified and united in him, that in the words of the darling poet of nature, it may be said:

"His life was gentle: and the elements so mixed in him, that nature might stand up And say to all the world--this was a man."

Links

Sources

  • Rev. Charles A. Goodrich Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. New York: William Reed & Co., 1856. Pages 410-415.
  • http://ead.lib.virginia.edu/vivaead/published/lva/vi01972.xml.frame A Guide to the Executive Papers of Governor Thomas Nelson, Jr., 1781 June 12-November 22 at The Library of Virginia
  • Peile, I. 266; a Virginia Correspondent; Dict. of American Biography, . 424; M. V. Smith, Virginia, 1492-1892; A History of the Executives of the Colony and of the Commonwealth.)
=============================================================================Birth: Dec. 26, 1738

Yorktown York County Virginia, USA Death: Jan. 4, 1789 Hanover County Virginia, USA

Declaration of Independence Signer. He was born to one of the wealthiest merchant families in Yorktown, Virginia. His father, William Nelson, had been Virginia's Governor twice. At age 14, Thomas was sent to England to attend school, a common practice among colonists, and he was educated at Christ's College at Cambridge University. Graduating in 1760, he returned to Virginia the next year, when he was 22. While aboard ship on the return journey, he was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses. In 1762, he married Lucy Grymes, a talented harpsichord player and daughter of Philip Grymes, Esquire, of Brandon, Virginia. With an ample fortune given to him by his father, Nelson was able to live a style of common elegance and hospitality; together, they would have 13 children. Their son, Hugh Nelson (1768-1836), would later serve in the US Congress. In 1772, his father died, leaving him 20,000 acres of land and more than 400 slaves. Just two years later, in 1774, after hearing about the Boston Tea Party, he performed an act against the British Tea Tax by boarding a merchant ship, Virginia, which was anchored near his home, and dumped several chests of tea into the York River. In an age when destroying another person's property was a serious crime, this was a very risky act, yet he was not punished for doing this. He served as a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1775 to 1777, and again in 1779. He was one of the first congressmen to favor independence, and urged his fellow delegates to support the cause of independence. The following spring, in May 1777, he suffered the first of many strokes. Returning home, he seemed to recover, but would have additional strokes as well as periodic bouts of asthma. Despite these health problems, he kept active in politics, and in 1781, he was elected as Virginia's Governor, succeeding Thomas Jefferson. In addition, he commanded the Virginia Militia with the rank of General. In the fall of 1781, General Nelson led 3,000 Virginia Militiamen as part of George Washington's Army besieging Yorktown. When the British took refuge in his home, American artillerymen refused to fire on the house, in respect to General Nelson. Nelson then aimed and fired a cannon at his own home, and ordered the men to fire at his house, destroying it. The British surrendered at Yorktown on October 19, 1781, marking the end of the major fighting in the American Revolution. Thomas Nelson had sacrificed his health, his home and his fortune to help win independence. He died in 1787 at the age of fifty while living at his son's home in Hanover County, Virginia. (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson)


Family links:

Parents:
 William Nelson (1711 - 1772)
 Elizabeth Burwell Nelson (1718 - 1798)

Spouse:
 Lucy Grymes Nelson (1743 - 1830)*

Children:
 William Nelson (1763 - 1801)*
 Thomas Nelson (1764 - 1804)*
 Philip Nelson (1766 - 1851)*
 Francis Nelson (1767 - 1833)*
 Hugh Nelson (1768 - 1836)*
 Elizabeth Nelson Page (1770 - 1853)*
 Mary Nelson Carter (1774 - 1803)*
 Lucy Nelson Page (1777 - 1863)*
 Robert Nelson (1778 - 1818)*
 Susanna Nelson Page (1780 - 1850)*
 Judith Nelson Nelson (1782 - 1869)*

Siblings:
 Elizabeth Nelson Thompson*
 Thomas Nelson (1738 - 1789)
 Nathaniel Nelson (1745 - ____)*
 Hugh Nelson (1750 - 1800)*
 Robert Nelson (1752 - 1818)*
 William Nelson (1754 - 1813)*
  • Calculated relationship

Burial: Grace Episcopal Churchyard Yorktown York County Virginia, USA


Edit Virtual Cemetery info [?]


Maintained by: Find A Grave Record added: Apr 26, 1998 Find A Grave Memorial# 2771 http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=2771

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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2010

Signers of the Declaration of Independence Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence in the summer of 1776. Those fifty-six men are among about two hundred men who are considered to be Founders of our nation. I want to know more about these brave men and the women who shared their lives and will be sharing what I learn with you in future weeks. This post will be an overview of them as a group.

The Revolutionary War began more than a year before the Declaration of Independence was written. Revolutionary events such as the Battle of Lexington, the Battle of Concord, the seizure of Fort Ticonderoga by Ethan Allen and his “Green Mountain Boys,” and the Battle of Bunker Hill all took place in 1775. Why did these men feel the need to declare independence when they did? The colonists were all British subjects who were trying to be loyal to their king while at the same time petitioning Great Britain to ease their taxes. When the king continued to increase taxes and brought more and more troops to insure payment, the signers declared they had had enough of being British subjects and wanted independence.

Who were these men who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor when they signed the Declaration of Independence? They were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing trouble makers. They were well educated men of means who were leaders in their communities. They had security, but they wanted liberty. Twenty-four of them were lawyers and jurists. Eleven of them were farmers and large plantation owners. Some of them had backgrounds in Bible study and teaching. They all wanted liberty and independence.

Five signers of the Declaration of Independence were captured by the British during the Revolutionary War, but none of them died while a prisoner. Four of them were captured as prisoners of war while in active military actions against the British. George Walton was captured after being wounded in the Battle of Savannah in December 1778. Thomas Heyward, Jr., Arthur Middleton, and Edward Rutledge were captured at the Siege of Charleston in May 1780. None of them were tortured or treated different as prisoners because they were signers, and all of them were eventually exchanged or released. If the British considered them to be traitors, they would have been hanged.

Richard Stockton was the only signer imprisoned simply because he signed the Declaration of Independence. He was also the only signer to violate his pledge when he secured a pardon and his release from prison by recanting his signature on the Declaration and signing an oath pledging allegiance to King George III.

Several of the signers saw their homes and properties occupied, ransacked, looted, and vandalized by the British and in some cases by the Americans. The signers’ homes were not targeted for destruction, but their property was seized because it was located along the path of a war.

Abraham Clark saw two of his sons captured by the British and imprisoned on the prison ship Jersey. John Witherspoon saw his eldest son, James, killed in the Battle of Germantown in October 1777.

Nine signers died during the Revolutionary War but not from wounds or hardships inflicted on them by the British. Button Gwinnett died of wounds received in a duel in May 1777.

During the Battle of Yorktown, British General Cornwallis used the home of signer Thomas Nelson, Jr., for his headquarters. There are numerous stories behind the fact that cannon balls – either American or French – were fired on Nelson’s home at his request. The cannon balls are still embedded in the walls of the home, which is now part of Colonial National Historical Park.

You can see pictures of the signers and/or dramatizations here (Fate of Our Fathers) and here (Signers of the Declaration of Independence) Facts in this post were checked by Snopes.com.

view all 19

Gen. Thomas Nelson, Jr., signer of the "Declaration of Independence"'s Timeline

1738
December 26, 1738
Yorktown, York, Virginia
1762
July 29, 1762
Age 23
York, Virginia
1763
August 9, 1763
Age 24
Yorktown, VA, USA
1764
December 27, 1764
Age 26
Yorktown York County Virginia, USA
1766
March 4, 1766
Age 27
Yorktown, VA, USA
1767
June 25, 1767
Age 28
Yorktown, York, Virginia
1768
September 30, 1768
Age 29
Yorktown, VA, USA
1770
December 26, 1770
Age 32
Yorktown York County Virginia, USA
1774
December 19, 1774
Age 35
Yorktown, York County, Province of Virginia
1776
July 4, 1776
- 1776
Age 37
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States

Descent Only 15 of the 56 signers have male descendants today. These Signers have no descendants: William Whipple, John Hancock, Samuel Huntington, James Smith, James Wilson, Caesar Rodney, George Wythe, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Joseph Hewes, Thomas Lynch, Jr. Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, and George Walton. These Signers have no same surname (male) descendants: Josiah Bartlett, Matthew Thornton, Samuel Adams, Elbridge Gerry, William Williams, William Floyd, Francis Lewis, Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, George Clymer, George Taylor, George Ross, Thomas McKean, Samuel Chase, Thomas Stone, Thomas Jefferson, William Hooper and John Penn. These Signers have very doubtful same surname (male) descendants: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery, Oliver Wolcott, John Witherspoon, Abraham Clark, John Morton, Carter Braxton, Edward Rutledge. The remainder of the Signers is known to have same surname (male) descendants. (Talk about being blown away when you find out almost all of the signers are part of your family's history. You sit back shake your head and wonder am I dreaming. Then you double check in disbelief wondering how that could be. What does that mean for you and your.) =================================================================== Did Your Ancestor Sign the Declaration of Independence? By James Pylant And can you prove it? Kathy M. Cornwell's "Disspelling a Myth and Finding An Ancestor," in Seventeen Seventy-Six, Vol. 2, No. 2 (pp. 69-73), tells of a family tradition that her husband's ancestor, Jane Wilson Cornwell, was the daughter of James Wilson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. "Admittedly, there was plausibility for the claim, for descendants of all of Jane's children whom we could locate had heard the story, and firmly believed it. One relative knew it was true because his grandmother told him, and she was Jane's daughter." Her research did reveal her husband's ancestor was the daughter of James Wilson — only that he and the signer were not one and the same. Signer James Wilson, according to one source Cornwell found, had no living descendants. "Our search to prove or disprove it spanned several years," wrote Cornwell, "but at the end of the genealogical journey we found the real ancestor, another James Wilson, who turned out to be just as colorful and fascinating as the celebrated Wilson." Yet, some legends prove to be true. “I too had a family story that the Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon was an ancestor," says librarian Beatrice M. Beck. "It took three years to document this story. But it was one hundred percent correct.”* The Rev. Frederick W. Pyne’s Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, a nine-volume series, was published by Picton Press. The author’s work incorporates data from the application files of the Society of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, the Frank W. Leach manuscript, and many other published references. In 1987, the LDS Reference Unit at the Family History Library, in Salt Lake City, compiled the "Founding Fathers Project." The project encompasses genealogical data on signers of the Declaration of Independence, signers of the Articles of Confederation (1778), and members of the American Constitutional Convention (1787). The Reference Unit's objective was to identify names of wives, children, and parents. This reference is available on microfilm loan at the various Family History Centers. The film number is 1592751, item 3. However, for more complete data on descendants (up to 1900 in some cases), refer to the following microfilms: 001751: John Adams, Samuel Adams, Josiah Bartlett, William Ellery, Elbridge Gerry,John Hancock, Stephen Hopkins, Samuel Huntington, Robert Treat Paine, Roger Sherman, Matthew Thornton, William Whipple, William Williams, and Oliver Wolcott. 001752: Abraham Clark, William Floyd, John Hart, Francis Lewis, Phillip Livingston, and Lewis Morris. 001753: George Clymer, Benjamin Francis Hopkinson, Robert Morris, John Morton, and John Witherspoon. 001754: Charles Carroll, Samuel Chase, Thomas McKean, William Paca, George Read, Caesar Rodney, George Ross, Benjamin Rush, Thomas Stone, George Taylor, and James Wilson. 001755: Carter Braxton, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Jefferson, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Nelson Jr., and George Wythe. 001756: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, Joseph Hewes, Thomas Heyward Jr., William Hooper, Thomas Lynch Jr., Arthur Middleton, John Penn, Edward Rutledge, and George Walton * Beatrice M. Beck to James Pylant, 4 June 2001. http://www.genealogymagazine.com/didyouransig.html
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http://history.org/foundation/journal/Winter11/painting_magnify/

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http://research.history.org/pf/publishing/goddardsPrinting.cfm

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