Is your surname Nelson?

Research the Nelson family

John Nelson's Geni Profile

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


John Nelson

Also Known As: "Jan Nelse"
Birthplace: near, London, Middlesex, England
Death: Died in Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts
Place of Burial: Mamaroneck, Westchester County, New York, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert Nelson; Eli Nelson and Mary Nelson
Husband of Mary Temple Nelson; Hendrikje Dirckse Vliet and Elizabeth Nelson (Tailer)
Father of Francis Nelson; Polycarpus Nelson; Eli Nelson; Maria Nelson; Catherine Nelson and 7 others

Occupation: Fur Trader, Governor of Massachusetts
Managed by: Arik Vladimir Russell
Last Updated:

About John Nelson

John Nelson (1654–1734) was an English colonial merchant, trader, and statesman, active in New England.

Land deals

During 1690, John Nelson bought all of the property from the tenants on Long Island with the exception of four and one-half acres owned by Thomas Stanberg, a shopkeeper from Boston. Stanberg was one of the original tenants on Long Island. Nelson was well connected politically being a close relative of Sir Thomas Temple, and the husband of Elizabeth Tailer, the niece of Lieutenant Governor William Stoughton and sister to Lieutenant Governor William Tailer. On June 4, Nelson mortgaged his Long Island property to William and Benjamin Browne from Salem, Massachusetts for 1,200 pounds. Henry Mare managed the Browne's house and land on Long Island.

Capture by the French

In 1692, John Nelson was captured by the French while on a trading or privateering voyage to Acadia, and was imprisoned in Quebec. It was common for local privateers to receive commissions in Boston but were considered pirates by the other nations of the world, especially the French and Spanish, who were the superpowers at the time.

While in prison, Nelson learned about secret French plans for attacks against the Massachusetts colonies. Nelson discreetly informed the Massachusetts authorities of this information from his prison cell. For this act, Nelson was punished by being transported across the Atlantic Ocean to the Bastille prison in France. In 1702, after ten years of imprisonment, his relative, Sir Purbeck Temple, obtained his release. Nelson immediately returned home to Nelson's Island (Long Island) as a local hero.

^ "The Islands of Boston Harbor", in "Some Events of Boston and Its Neighbors", Chapter 4, printed for the State Street Trust Company, Boston, Massachusetts, 1917.

"The island [Long Island] is chiefly noted as the residence of John Nelson, who is looked upon as a hero by the American people. He was captured by the French in a voyage to the eastward and imprisoned in Quebec. While there he informed Massachusetts that the French were forming plans against the New England Colonies, and for this he was sent to the Bastille. He was finally released, and on his return to Long Island the Nelson family gave him a great feast of welcome, and part of the table-cloth is believed still to be preserved by his descendants".

Nelson married his wife, Elizabeth Trainer, circa 1886 and had six children. Rebecca, who married Henry Lloyd, Elizabeth, who married Nathaniel Hubbard, Mehetable, who married Captain Robert Temple, Margaret who married Captain Thomas Steele, Temple, and Pachal.

  1. Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
  2. The Founders: Portraits of Persons Born Abroad Who Came to the ..., Volume 3. By Charles Knowles Bolton. Page 797
view all 18

John Nelson's Timeline

London, Middlesex, England
June 11, 1671
Age 17
October 13, 1678
Age 24
Brooklyn, New Amsterdam, NY, USA
July 21, 1680
Age 26
Long Island, , NY, USA
December 14, 1684
Age 30
Mamoroneck, Winchester, NY, USA
November 15, 1688
Age 34
Boston, Suffolk, MA, USA
Age 37
Mamaroneck, Westchester County, New York, United States
Age 46
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts
Age 46