The earliest Nelson that I have come across so far is James Nelson, my wife’s great, great, great grandfather. He served in the Royal Staff Corps from 25 March 1800 to 22 February 1819 (when he was discharged to pension). After a short gap he joined the 1st Royal Veterans Battalion on 21st November 1819. The cover of the pay list for this battalion states that it was formed of “out pensioners from regiments of cavalry, guards and staff corps collected at Chatham, appropriated to the 1 R.V. Batt”. The battalion was formed into companies on 25 November 1819 under the command of Colonel Archibald Christie at Chatham.

Sometime between the 25 June 1821 and 24 December 1821 he left the 1 RVB, as by 25 December 1821 the battalion was in Ireland and he was not in the pay lists. Unfortunately the pay lists for the intervening period are missing from the records at The National Archives. Pay in the 1 R.V.B. was 1s 3d per day plus 1d per day beer money.

On James’s discharge papers from the Royal Staff Corps it states that he was in the 78th Regiment from 25 March 1799 to 24 March 1800. There is a handwritten note written along the side of the document stating that no documentary evidence was produced to confirm this, and I have been unable to find any record of James in the 78th at that time in the records at TNA.

Whilst in the RSC based at Hythe, Kent James married Jane Hills on 13 August 1811. They had 5 children that I am aware of. The 2 youngest John and Jane never married and lived together for many years. The eldest son, James, married Jemima Butters and as far as I am aware did not have any children. James junior was a coastguard and for many years worked in Ireland. Henry, James’s third son, was born in Cambrai, France in 1817 and is my wife’s great, great, grandfather. There was one other son, William (born 1815), but I have been unable to find out anything about him and he may have died young.

At some time between 1821 and 1824 James settled in Hythe, Kent and spent the rest of his days there. In 1832 he was among 250 men who were refused the vote. Jane died in 1848 and James in 1849. During a visit to the East Kent Archives near Dover a few years ago I made a transcription of James’s will (written about 3 weeks before his death) in which he describes himself as Beer-seller, Grazier, Dealer and Chapman. With the will was a list of his assets and debts at the time of his death. After payment of his debts each of his 4 remaining children received cash and/or livestock to the value of £28 12s 1d. Also with the papers was a copy of his Residuary Account with the Inland Revenue, the duty paid amounted to £2 0s 5d. All these documents were part of the papers of Henry Bean Mackeson, Brewer of Hythe. And, yes, this Mackeson’s brewery is the same one that later developed Mackeson’s Milk Stout. At the time of his death James was living at the Nelson’s Head in Shoemaker Place (or Shoemaker Bridge Place), Hythe. John and Jane took over the Nelson’s Head.  This undated photograph shows the Nelsons Head Inn - the building is still there and is now a restaurant.


For photos of the Nelson family click here

For information on the Fosberry family who married into the Nelson family via the Paice family click here

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